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All eyes are on Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in Illinois, the only such race on the docket that night. What little polling there's been indicates an edge for Mitt Romney, but there are also a large number of congressional primaries worth watching as well. Below you'll find our interactive map of the state's new district lines, and beneath the fold, our rundown on the key races and candidates throughout the Land of Lincoln:

(Continue reading below the fold)

IL-02 (D): It was never very clear what ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson was thinking when she decided to try for a comeback against Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. All she really had on her side was the fact that Jackson was (and still is) embroiled in some ethical hot water relating to the Rod Blagojevich/Senate seat scandal. Everything else pretty much tipped against her: In her single term in the old 11th, she only represented 22% of the constituents of the redrawn 2nd; she amassed a voting record well to Jackson's right—a liability in this 81% Obama district; and even though the lines shifted somewhat, this seat remained majority black, meaning the Democratic primary electorate is even more heavily African American. Race isn't necessarily destiny in American politics (look at Steve Cohen in TN-09 or Keith Ellison in MN-05), but it's hard to argue Jackson, who is black, didn't have the advantage here over Halvorson, who is white. In any event, despite his ethics woes, the establishment rallied around JJJ, who has held sizable leads both in fundraising and polling. It's hard to see how Halvorson has a path to victory here.

IL-08 (D): This race has been a super-heavyweight matchup between 2010 state comptroller candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi and 2006 IL-06 nominee Tammy Duckworth. Both have raised a ton—over a million each—and spent heavily as well, yet the contest has stayed largely positive. It's been hard to detect much ideological difference between the two candidates, and labor has been largely split in its endorsements, with construction trades leaning more toward Raja and service industry unions going more for Duckworth. But Duckworth's also won major establishment backing, including the state's senior senator, Sen. Dick Durbin, and her chief patron, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. She's also held very big leads in her internal polling, the only numbers we've seen on the race. However, the last survey was taken before either candidate went on the air, so things have probably shifted somewhat since then. Duckworth still has to be considered the favorite, though. The winner will take on Rep. Joe Walsh in the fall.

IL-10 (D): Though nominally a four-way race, the contest has come down to a battle between former MoveOn organizer Ilya Sheyman and consultant Brad Schneider. As you might expect, Sheyman, just 25, has run heavily on his progressive credentials; Schneider's staked out your typical sort of "business Dem" turf. The late momentum appears to be with Sheyman, who has scored some hits against Schneider on account of his record of donating to Republican office-seekers. While a February internal for Schneider had him up 29-14, only Schneider had really begun waging a paid media campaign at that point. Since then, both candidates have hit the airwaves (and mailboxes); a poll taken just last week for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee by PPP put Sheyman ahead 45-27. Whoever wins the nomination will look to unseat Rep. Bob Dold! in November.

IL-11 (D): Ex-Rep. Bill Foster has already raised more than a million dollars and should have no trouble winning the Democratic nod. The bigger obstacle to his comeback attempt by far will come in the general election, when he'll face veteran Rep. Judy Biggert.

IL-12 (D & R): In this race to replace retiring Dem Rep. Jerry Costello, it looks like Democrats have already found their replacement: former St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Brad Harriman, who faces minimal opposition in the primary. The Republican frontrunner is 29-year-old Jason Plummer, who was his party's lt. gov. nominee last cycle. He's not an especially impressive candidate (check out that Rick Perry-esque clip to see what I mean), and he hasn't raised very much. Also in the race are former Belleville mayor Rodger Cook and 2010 GOP primary candidate Theresa Kormos. Plummer's higher name rec should probably give him the edge, but it's hard to say for sure in this low-intensity campaign.

IL-13 (D): The contest between physician David Gill and Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten has grown nasty in recent weeks, with Gill trying to label Goetten a "conservative" and hammering him for "waffling" on choice. Goetten seems to be on the defensive, firing back with a TV ad that accuses Gill of "smearing" him. Gill came into this race with a small measure of name rec: He ran against GOP Rep. Tim Johnson three times in the old 15th (which has a small overlap with the new 13th), though he never scored better than 42%. Gill also likely has greater appeal to your average Democratic primary voter, thanks to his more liberal positioning. But Goetten is the establishment pick and had a lot more cash left over for the stretch run, so the nomination could be anybody's to win. The victor will have a tough race against Johnson come November.

IL-16 (R): Because Illinois lost a seat in reapportionment, and because Democrats had exclusive control over drawing the state's new congressional map, it was inevitable that, barring a retirement, at least two Republicans would win up in the same district together. That's precisely what happened here, leading to a titanic clash between veteran Rep. Don Manzullo and freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who was all of 14 years old when Manzullo was first elected to Congress. Though Kinzinger rode to victory in 2010 on the tea party wave, he's actually amassed one of the more moderate (though by no means actually moderate) voting records in the GOP caucus. That's led Manzullo to savage Kinzinger's conservative credentials, though Kinzinger has fired right back, with each accusing the other of supporting increased government spending. This capsule summary doesn't get at just how nasty this fight has been, though; for some good local color, try here and here.

The most recent poll of this race (by Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America) had it a dead heat, but rather remarkably, Kinzinger's earned some major establishment backing from Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House. Not only has Cantor endorsed Kinzinger, but his PAC has spent $50,000 on his behalf. Manzullo, however, has a geographic advantage: He currently represents 44% of the redrawn 16th, while Kinzinger only represents 31%. This contest is as close to a tossup as you can imagine, and the winner is guaranteed a spot in the 113th Congress, seeing as no Democrats filed to run in this decidedly red district.

IL-17 (D): Democrats did a very good job of shafting freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling, creating a district where Team Blue should have the edge in the fall. Surprisingly, though, only one major candidate will make it to primary day, former East Moline city councilwoman Cheri Bustos, who has been endorsed by EMILY's List. State Sen. Dave Koehler had been heavily touted, but he unexpectedly dropped out in December. The other Democrats still running have raised next-to-nothing, so Bustos is the wide favorite for the nomination.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Mar 18, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections.

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