Mitt Romney Easily Wins Illinois Primary

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Posted March 20, 2012 at 8:52pm

Updated: 10 p.m. | Mitt Romney easily won the Illinois Republican primary today, leading networks to call the race just a half-hour after polls closed.

With 7 percent of precincts reporting, the former Massachusetts governor had 55 percent of the vote, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had 28 percent.

Farther back in the pack, Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 10 percent and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) had 7 percent.

Fifty-four delegates are at stake tonight in the state’s 18 Congressional districts.

     Updated 10 p.m.

In a victory speech, Romney quickly turned the focus on President Barack Obama.

“Three years of Barack Obama have brought us fewer jobs and shrinking paychecks,” he said. “It’s time to say these words … this word: Enough.”

He argued that government regulations on coal, oil and natural gas were keeping the economy from improving. He argued that it was time for the country to “replace a law professor with a conservative businessman.”

Speaking in Gettysburg, Pa., Santorum said the coming presidential election would be the most important since 1860. Standing below a banner that said “Freedom,” he criticized the 2010 health care law and said that the Obama administration was making people more dependent on government.

“We need someone who’s going to pull government up by the roots and throw it out,” he said.

He also noted that he had won segments of Illinois.

“We won the areas that conservatives and Republicans populate, and we’re very happy about that,” he said.