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Illinois primary: how the Scott Brown win has changed strategies

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Illinois Republicans see an opportunity to play on the perceived weaknesses of the Democratic Party. They’re adopting a strategy similar to Brown’s, which portrayed Democrats as out of touch and fiscally inept. And they’re zeroing in on something specific to the state: The impeached governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, is expected to go on trial in June.

Republicans here hope that the issues that motivated voters to choose Mr. Brown will also resonate with Illinois voters, especially come November. “It’s gotten to such a level that people are angry. That’s what you saw in Massachusetts, and that’s the same thing you’re going to see in Illinois,” says Dan Venturi, chairman of the Lake County Republican Federation.

US Rep. Mark Kirk is the leading Republican in the Senate race. The Brown win, he says, showed his campaign that its message could reach further than GOP voters.

“Nothing energizes an army more than a chance of success, and the Illinois Republican army has been quite demoralized over the last decade,” Representative Kirk says. “When they saw the Scott Brown victory, where no one expected success, it utterly energized some Republicans, independents, and even some Democrats to help break the one-party rule in Illinois.”

If he wins Tuesday, Kirk says he will make corruption “the central focus” of his campaign. “Things are worse in Illinois than in Massachusetts because underneath every issue in Illinois is corruption,” he says.

But Republicans aren’t the only ones framing the Brown narrative in their favor. Democrats say it’s galvanized their ranks and provided motivation to campaign harder.

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