Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) was named the winner of the on Saturday as the state’s Republicans showed their preference for their party’s presidential nomination to oppose President Barack Obama.
"I congratulate Congressman Paul on his victory," Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady said in a statement. "It is clear Illinois Republicans are gearing up for a tremendous year in 2012."
Paul took 52 percent of the votes cast both online since Oct. 29 and in person Saturday in 20 locations throughout the state, including the . Georgia businessman Herman Cain was second (18 percent), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney third (14 percent), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich fourth (9 percent).
Far behind were Texas Gov. Rick Perry (2.5 percent), former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (1.5 percent), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (1.1 percent).
The Illinois Straw Poll was originally the idea of , Highland Park Patch reports. Kirk originally announced the plan Feb. 6 in an effort to give Illinois Republicans a greater voice in the presidential nominating process.
“Illinois can play a role in the presidential selection process with this straw poll,” Kirk Saturday at the Wheeling Township Republican Headquarters in Arlington Heights.
In Lemont, the straw poll saw support Saturday from the likes of Kirk, Congresswoman Judy Biggert, State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, Asst. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman and Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady.
"This poll is really an opportunity for Illinois voters to have a voice in this presidential election, which is great because there's a lot of interest and excitement right now both nationally and locally," said , chairman of the Cook County Republican Party.
The Illinois GOP charged voters $5 to participate in the straw poll in order "to help the defray costs." Because Illinois does not have party registration, the Illinois Republican Party said that requiring a contribution would "help limit the straw poll to committed Republicans who are legally qualified to vote."
Vaznelis said the money raised through the straw poll will go to the Illinois GOP, which will distribute the money to county Republican groups across the state.
"The money will be used to get the vote out next year," Vaznelis said. "There's a perception that this state is totally blue, but we feel that Illinois is in play."