Trump claims victory in Illinois
Donald Trump has been projected the winner of Illinois' Republican primary for president, riding a campaign of voters' frustration with politicians, bombastic claims and rollicking rallies toward victory in Illinois.
His victory over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came on a sweep of Illinois most populous suburban counties, with Trump taking leads in early returns in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will and suburban Cook.
Trump's results come just days after he made national waves in Chicago for canceling a rally when confronted by throngs of protesters. The action prompted a massive backlash from candidates in both parties as they tried to capitalize on a potential moment of weakness in Trump's front-running national campaign.
Instead, the businessman's supporters were energized, and delivered with about 39 percent of Illinois' vote with 97 percent of precincts reporting.
"Smart voters can see that he's the only one standing up to these thugs," Trump supporter Doug Ibendahl said Tuesday night.
Cruz was running second with 30 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Midwesterner who hoped to do well here, trailed with 20 percent.
"I want someone different," Trump backer Paul Lashuk of Schaumburg said at his polling place. "I'm tired of both parties."
Before Illinois' results even started to come in, Sen. Marco Rubio conceded to Trump in Florida.
Potential delegate wins here, in a state known for supporting so-called establishment candidates at the top of the ballot, could help put Trump on track toward his party's nomination for president.
But Illinois' 69-delegate bounty won't necessarily be awarded to a single candidate, leaving an opening for others to claim some kind of victories here. Delegate victories might be sorted out by the party in the coming days if the victors aren't immediately clear.
Kasich spent time in the suburbs the week before the election "showing a genuine interest in a Midwestern state that has a lot of similarities with his home state," state Rep. Ron Sandack, a Downers Grove Republican, said.
Cruz has presented himself as the conservative choice in the race in recent days and spent so much time in the suburbs because he saw a path to delegate wins here, one of his Illinois co-chairmen said.
"That was all driven by the data," Chicago GOP leader Chris Cleveland said.
Rubio had some of the best-known Illinois delegates on the ballot among Republicans still in the race, but now his supporters will have to re-evaluate.