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2010 Campaigns Begin in Illinois

If there’s any state that might need a breather from politics, it’s Illinois.

But the state that ejected Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on corruption allegations earlier this year has the first-in-the-nation 2010 primary on Feb. 2, and Tuesday was the first day that prospective candidates could ask voters to sign nominating petitions to place them on the primary ballot.

Yes, you read that correctly: just seven months after the 111th Congress convened and 15 months before the November 2010 elections, Illinois incumbents and candidates have to make their political plans now. The candidate filing deadline is Nov. 2.

Here’s a look at some of the Illinois races CQ Politics will be watching most closely:

Governor: Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, a former lieutenant governor who became Illinois’ chief executive after Blagojevich was ousted, probably will be opposed in the primary by state Comptroller Dan Hynes. More than a half-dozen Republicans are planning to run.