If you’re voting today in the Republican primary, you should know how it works. The choice of a nominee for president is a so-called beauty contest – interesting, but not important. It’s the delegates that are important, says former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
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“The real count is who they vote for delegates, and they’ll be confronted with about a list of 15, 14, depending on what congressional district they’re in, of people who are running,” Hastert said. Illinois will elect three delegates per congressional district, for a total of 54. On the ballot, the candidates for delegate are identified by the candidate to whom they’re committed for president, but that commitment lasts only as long as the candidate. That means that if a delegate is elected to back a candidate who drops out or is eliminated, that delegate is a free agent at the convention.
Mitt Romney has 52 candidates, nearly a full slate of delegates in Illinois. Rick Santorum is 25 candidates short. Santorum has no delegate candidates in districts 4 (Chicago), 5 (Chicago), 7 (Chicago), and 15 (Southern Illinois), and is short of a full slate in almost every other district. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have virtually full slates. There are even contested primaries for Paul delegates in the 15th and 18th District, and for Romney delegates in the 18th District. An Evanston woman is running as a Rick Perry delegate in the Ninth District.