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Illinois results: Razor-thin margins

"Two Illinois Democrats were virtually tied early Wednesday in the race to decide who will defend the governor's office from a Republican Party eager to exploit political disarray in President Obama's home state come November," the AP says. "In the nation's first primary, voters selected the candidates who will fight for Obama's former Senate seat, but the governor's races were exceptionally tight on both sides. Though Gov. Pat Quinn declared victory in the Democratic race, challenger Dan Hynes vowed to fight until every vote was counted."

With razor-thin margins in the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial races (as well as county races and for state Comptroller), Illinois elections officials are preparing for the worst. "The razor thin margins could lead to unprecedented recounts for a state with no automatic provisions for them," NBC Chicago reports. "It's a tricky proposition. The provisions follow thusly. Election authorities first must count late-arriving absentee ballots, randomly check some of the results, inspect voting equipment and then declare official winners. That takes up to two weeks.

"Then a candidate can petition for a 'discovery recount.' A 'discovery recount' can be called for if a losing margin is within 5 percent of the winner. The losing candidate can petition the state board of elections, or the county clerks office for smaller races, to retabulate votes in up to 25 percent of its precincts of the candidate's choosing… If the discovery recount uncovers evidence of missed votes or disenfranchisement, the candidate can then opt to sue in circuit court for a full recount, a process Orr said can take months to complete. Filing for discovery recounts is March 1. If the discovery recount uncovers voting discrepancies, a candidate can then petition either the Circuit Court, for city and county elections, and the Supreme Court for statewide elections, to authorize a full recount. The petitioning candidate would have to pay for it, too."

It's Giannoulias vs. Kirk for Senate: "Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias withstood some late drama and held on to win the Democratic primary for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat on Tuesday," The Hill writes. "The 33-year old former Obama basketball buddy led former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman 39-34 with 86 percent of precincts reporting. Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Robinson Jackson was third with 20 percent."

The Hill also looks at the tough fight ahead for the Democrat: "Not all is well for Giannoulias, though, who faced plenty of questions this past week over his family's bank. It was reported a week ago that Broadway Bank needs federal and state help to avoid collapse. The bank has also made loans to some unsavory characters, including convicted political fixer Tony Rezko. It is expected to be a major issue in the general election, when more attention will be paid to the details of the situation and when Giannoulias's opponent will have more money to drive the issue home."

Washington Post: "[Rep. Mark] Kirk, a five-term congressman with a moderate record, cruised to victory over five rivals. Giannoulias -- at age 31 a relative political novice -- edged out former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman in a result that may have signaled fractures in the state Democratic Party heading into the general election… Gov. Pat Quinn (D) was fighting for his political life, trying to stave off an aggressive effort to unseat him by state Comptroller Dan Hynes at a time when voters' populist anger is turning against officeholders. Quinn led Hynes by about 5,200 votes (out of more than 850,000 cast)."

For full results, check out the Chicago Tribune's elections page.