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Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders won the Wisconsin primaries Tuesday night, an important step for both candidates as they look to stop their leading rivals and close their delegate gaps.

For the Republican Texas senator, he's on pace for a nearly double-digit win over Donald Trump, increasing the likelihood of a contested Republican convention this July in Cleveland.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Donald Trump first made his mark in the mid-1970s by purchasing the venerable Commodore Hotel in Midtown Manhattan and covering it with stainless steel and glass.

It was the beginning of a long, carefully planned campaign to create a Trump brand of glitz and glamour — one that he would attach to everything from champagne to neckties.

Now some people think that the mud-slinging presidential campaign may have seriously damaged Trump's brand, especially with the high-income crowd he caters to.

After "Make America Great Again," it is perhaps the most common refrain of the Donald Trump campaign.

"I will build a wall!"

And, every time, it's followed by an ironclad guarantee from the candidate:

"And I will make Mexico pay for it."

When asked how, Trump has always been short on details. He cites leverage the U.S. has over Mexico, which needs access to the U.S. market. He has also suggested steep tariffs on Mexican-made goods.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

There's a lot on the line for both parties in Tuesday's Wisconsin contest. For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the state is a prime chance to stop Donald Trump and complicate the GOP front-runner's path to the nomination. For Bernie Sanders, a win over Hillary Clinton helps close his delegate deficit and gives the Vermont senator new momentum heading into the next stretch of the primary calendar.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Two recently appointed state representatives held off primary challenges Tuesday night.

Springfield-area State Senator Sam McCann, R-Plainview, fended off a challenge Tuesday from fellow Republican Bryce Benton. McCann had been targeted for defeat after defying Gov. Bruce Rauner, also a Republican, on a key vote.

Cruz Makes Last Minute Pitch For Votes In Springfield

Mar 15, 2016
npr

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz made a late night stop at a Springfield church. 

The Texas Republican says he's is the only one who can beat front runner Donald Trump. 

Cruz says Trump gave money to Illinois Democrats ... drawing boos from the large crowd. 

"Donald Trump gave $12,500 dollars to the Cook County Democratic Party. Donald Trump gave $50-thousand dollars to Rahm Emanuel," he said.

Illinois voters have until 7 p-m tonight (TUES) to cast their votes. 

Rachel Otwell

As the March 15th primary draws closer -- presidential candidates and their campaigns are making visits to the state. But one candidate stopped by last week who you may not know as much about. Her name is Jill Stein, and she's once again running for president, representing the Green Party

ilga.gov

Representative Sara Wojcicki has only been in office for a few months. 

But she's already facing her first election as a state lawmaker.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

The Illinois Democrat says that with the Iowa Caucuses two weeks away… he believes even most Republicans couldn’t yet answer that question.

Durbin says in his experience… voters need to wait until early March, after a few primaries and caucuses… to get a true sense of who’s leading.

flickr/hjl

Some Republicans say Illinois could play a significant role in the GOP presidential nomination process - even though it’s late in the primary calendar.

Hannah Meisel

Amanda Vinicky hosts The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they are up to. This week, she talks with a candidate for the U.S. Senate. 

Democrats looking to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate have their hopes pinned on Illinois.

Illinois' junior Senator, Republican Mark Kirk, is seen a vulnerable; he's got a primary challenge of his own, but he's way out in front on the cash race, and has the party's backing.

Democrats? They're more split.

In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting — the deadliest in recent U.S. history, with 49 victims — calls for gun control have once again grown louder. In fact, they were shouted on the House floor on Monday. After Speaker Paul Ryan led a moment of silence, Democrats yelled, "Where's the bill?" at him, asking for new gun control measures.

Sangamon County Republicans have named Sara Wojcicki Jimenez to represent the 99th State House District. She'll replace former State Rep. Raymond Poe, who was recently appointed the new Illinois Department of Agriculture Director.

Jason Parrott/TSPR

The presidential campaign is coming to Springfield. 

WILL

Mike Madigan is running for the Illinois General Assembly.

Urbana businessman and city council member Mike Madigan is running for the 52nd state senate district, he announced Monday in Champaign. Madigan is the owner of Hickory River restaurants in Urbana, Peoria, Springfield and Decatur and has served on the city council since May 2013. He's the only Republican in that heavily Democratic body.

While he may have the name in common with longtime Democratic House Speaker Madigan, this Madigan says the similarities pretty much end there.

Amanda Vinicky WUIS

A former state lawmaker from western Illinois wants back in the general assembly. 

Jil Tracy launched her campaign for state Senate in a Quincy park Monday.  She lives in the town and represented the area in the Illinois House for about a decade. 

ilga.gov

Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter says Congressman John Shimkus has spent too much time in office appealing to special interests. And that’s why he’s challenging the incumbent in the 15th district’s March primary.

Illinois Issues: Congressional Exploits

Aug 20, 2015
Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock / Instagram

Antics like sexual misconduct, theft and ethical indiscretions have landed Illinois' representatives in trouble for decades.

Gill campaign

A former Democratic nominee in central Illinois's 13th Congressional District has announced an independent bid for the seat.  

Bloomington doctor David Gill said Tuesday that his ``independent campaign will be highly competitive, in spite of the obstacles built into the system by the two major parties.''  

Gill last ran for the seat in 2012 and lost by 1,002 votes to Republican Rodney Davis, now in his second term.

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports (http://bit.ly/1hmbyuE ) no Democrat has announced plans to challenge Davis.  

Rachel Otwell // WUIS

The cover story from the Illinois Times that came out last Thursday is titled, "The high cost of budget cuts: When Illinois slashes social services, the vulnerable suffer." The author, Patrick Yeagle, joined me to talk about which social service agencies could disappear as a result of the state's budget impasse and proposed cuts. 

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