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Proposal to make Chicago a state shows Illinois divide

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Not in Illinois. Under the lawmakers' proposal, the state would be telling Chicago and Cook County to get lost. Without the domineering, overly liberal and tax-hungry metropolis, Mitchell and Brown contend, Illinois could be more like GOP-run Indiana.

For some down south in the Land of Lincoln, their resentment toward Chicago is less about politics than values. They are generally more conservative, and more opposed to the state's recent income tax hike, civil unions law and abolishment of the death penalty.

Political pundits pan the proposal as a stunt meant to score political points during challenging economic times, and it has virtually no chance of success, needing the backing of the Democratic governor, Democratic-controlled Legislature and Congress.

Charles Wheeler, a longtime Statehouse reporter who now teaches journalism at the University of Illinois at Springfield, alluded to another north-south Illinois split – the one between Chicago Cubs fans in the north and St. Louis Cardinals down south – when dismissing the idea.

"I think it's goofy. It's more likely I'll be the starting first baseman for the Cardinals next April than for this to pass," Wheeler said.

Even if a split were possible, it could be financially disastrous for downstate Illinois.

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