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Evan Vucci/AP

Editor's note: NPR will also be fact-checking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's planned economic speech this Thursday. Danielle Kurtzleben, Arnie Seipel, Peter Overby, Will Huntsberry and Jonquilyn Hill also contributed to this story.

Donald Trump is coming off a week of disastrous headlines and cratering poll numbers. His major economic speech on Monday at the Detroit Economic Club, a vision described by his campaign as "Winning the Global Competition," was a chance to turn the page.

    

Many political experts say House Speaker Paul Ryan will beat his Republican challenger during Wisconsin's August 9 partisan primary. Matt Streb isn't so sure.

Streb, a political science professor at Northern Illinois University, notes that Sarah Palin endorsed Ryan's challenger, Paul Nehlin, because Ryan was slow to endorse Donald Trump, the GOP's presidential nominee. But Streb isn't thinking about Palin.

Amanda Vinicky

Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for President, after delegates in Cleveland awarded him their votes Tuesday night. For some Illinois Republicans, it’s a time for vindication and celebration. But others remain wary.

The real work of nominating a major party candidate for president is done in the caucuses and primaries that began what may seem like ages ago.

Actually, the Iowa caucuses were less than six months ago – in the blistering cold of early February.

'Nuns On The Bus' Are Driving Toward Social Reform

Jul 16, 2016
Judith Valente/WGLT

The socially-conscious Nuns on the Bus tour, which gained national attention during the 2012 presidential election, rolled through Illinois last week as part of a 13-state schedule that will include stops at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Their theme this year is "Mend the Gaps: Reweave the Fabric of Society." The nine sisters on board said they hope to draw attention to the growing gap between rich and poor, among other social justice issues. 

Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

Some Illinois delegates for Donald Trump say they’ll skip next week’s political convention in protest of their own state Republican Party.

Rich Nordstrom won election in the Republican primary to go to next week’s National Convention as a delegate and officially vote for Donald Trump to be the party’s nominee. But Nordstrom isn’t sure he’ll go, saying he’s bothered the top Illinois Republicans -- like Governor Bruce Rauner – are not going.

Flickr user Marc Nozell / "Hillary Clinton in Hampton, NH (April 2007)" (CC v 2.0)

Hillary Clinton returned to Illinois’s capital city today to give a speech focused on racial tensions and other divisions that she says hold back the nation. 

Clinton says recent turmoil has blacks questioning whether their lives matter, while economic turmoil has workers questioning whether America cares about their future. She says in times like this, the nation needs a President who can pull all sides together.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth's campaign says she raised a record $2.7 million in the most recent quarter for her closely watched bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

The Illinois Democrat enters the contest's final months with $5.5 million cash on hand.

Kirk's campaign hasn't released his fundraising totals for the three-month period that ended June 30.

Democrats see Illinois as one of the party's best opportunities to pick up a seat and potentially retake the Senate in November.

The FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton for the probe into her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State on Saturday morning, according to a spokesman for Clinton.

Spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement that the interview about her email arrangements was "voluntary" and adds, "She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion."

He says Clinton will not comment further about the interview "out of respect for the investigative process."

Northern Illinois University

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial remarks could affect the Illinois U.S. Senate race, according to one expert.

Northern Illinois University political scientist Matt Streb says he can’t remember a time when candidates distanced themselves from their party’s nominee. He says this is affecting the race between incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

Winnebago County Bar Association

Illinois is approaching a new fiscal year without a state budget. The head of an organization that helps fund social service agencies says citizens need to demand more from their lawmakers. 

Paul Logli is president and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. He told the crowd at the Rockford Urban Ministries annual meeting Friday that no matter where they stand politically, they have to be unforgiving of ALL state lawmakers about the budget impasse.

Republican Mark Kirk Says He Won't Support Trump

Jun 7, 2016
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The junior U.S. Senator from Illinois has reached a breaking point in support for his party's presidential candidate.

Kirk said Tuesday that, as the presidential campaign progressed, he was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that’s "inclusive, thoughtful and principled."

But he says Trump’s latest statements about a federal judge of Mexican heritage were dead wrong and un-American.

Kirk has said he’d support the party’s nominee.

Illinois House Democrats

An outspoken Democratic state representative says he's running for McHenry County board chairman instead of seeking re-election. 

  State Rep. Jack Franks first took office in 1999 and has often clashed with his own party. McHenry County Democratic Party officials chose him Sunday to fill the ballot vacancy for board chairman. He'll have to collect 270 signatures to get his name on the November ballot. 

In a statement, Franks says he won't seek re-election for the General Assembly. Party leaders have until late August to find a replacement. 

Last November, disgruntled voters in a Rust Belt state beset by economic decline, budget shortfalls and pension woes, booted their incumbent governor — one of the least popular in the nation — out of office.

In his place, citizens chose a political neophyte, an Ivy League grad who’d never before run for public office and who promised to run the state like the businessman he was.

Darron Cummings/AP

Political attention turns to the Hoosier State tonight, where both the Indiana Republican and Democratic presidential primary contests could be especially consequential.

Ted Cruz needs a victory over Donald Trump to stop the latter's march to the GOP nomination, but he's trailing in polls. The Democratic contest is closer, with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton running neck and neck.

There's an important Republican Senate primary to keep an eye on, too. Here are four things we'll be watching tonight:

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

If the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner is "nerd prom," Mr. President is the class clown.

In his final run as comedian in chief at the event on Saturday evening, President Obama closed his speech with "Obama out," and a mic drop before receiving a standing ovation from Washington's bigwigs and Hollywood.

photo provided by Hickey to LWV-Rockford

A force in Rockford politics and education has died. Former State Senator Vivian Hickey was 100 years old. 

The die-hard Democrat was appointed to fill the term of Rockford’s first female State Senator when Betty Ann Keegan died. Hickey was elected to what became known as The Woman’s Seat: a string of women from Rockford were elected to the 34th District State Senate seat. 

Illinois Rep. Jack Franks Pushes Redistricting Amendment

Apr 27, 2016
Illinois House Democrats

  Illinois Democratic Representative Jack Franks is advancing a constitutional amendment that would change how the state draws its voter districts.  It passed out of committee, and Franks hopes the measure will cut down on partisan redraws. 

"We've been very good at gerrymandering maps and doing our incumbent protection policy for whichever party is in power at the time.  It's not a Democrat or Republican thing.  It is a bipartisan deal where everyone takes advantage of the citizens by protecting people like me," he says.  

Jesse White said last year he will not run for public office again. But now, the long-time Illinois Secretary of State is starting to change his tune.

White may be considered one of the most popular politicians in Illinois. The 81-year-old handily won election to Secretary of State five times.

Last year, White announced he would not run again. But he recently told WBEZ the Illinois Democratic Party may want him to.

“I think they’re trying to put forth a movement to draft me so I may not be able to ride off into the sunset,” he said. “I’m a loyal party member.”

Rick Kurtz

Three Rockford-area residents are among the hundreds who have been arrested for civil disobedience this week in Washington, DC. They’re part of “Democracy Spring,” a coalition of groups demanding voter rights protections and an end to “big-money politics.”

While NPR will cover Wisconsin's 2016 Presidential Preference voting, and you can listen to the coverage on our special Elections 2016 page beginning at 8 p.m.

However, there are many local elections and issues that may not get national attention.

WNIJ News recognizes that a significant number of our listeners come from "north of the border," so we have provided links to election results for counties within our listening range in Wisconsin.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders swept all three Democratic caucuses that were held on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

He took each state by a striking margin. In Washington state — the biggest prize for Sanders, where 101 pledged delegates were up for grabs — Sanders won with 73 percent of the vote.

In Alaska, with 16 pledged delegates were at stake, Sanders won with 82 percent; and in Hawaii, with 25 delegates, the senator from Vermont won with 70 percent.

Voters in Wisconsin can begin casting ballots in the presidential race. A Wisconsin state Supreme Court seat is also at stake in the state's April 5th primary.

This is the first presidential election where voters will be required to show photo identification in order to cast their ballots. Early voting runs through 5 p.m. on April first.

U.S. Senate / kirk.senate.gov

Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has become the first Republican senator to break with party leaders and call for a vote on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick. 

Kirk said in an interview on Chicago radio station WLS the Senate should “man up and cast a vote.'' 

Last Wednesday, President Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February.

Kirk faces a difficult re-election fight this fall against Tammy Duckworth in a Democratic-leaning state. 

Republican Senators don't argue about Judge Merrick Garland's qualifications to be the next Supreme Court Justice. Garland is the chief judge of the U.S Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

They dislike that President Obama nominated him during an election year, during his last year in office, and that the moderate Garland would replace conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth beat two challengers to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. That means Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, will face incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the November General Election.

Kirk, a moderate, beat conservative challenger James Marter in the GOP primary.

Rockford residents approved – by a nearly 2-to-1 vote -- for the third time the imposition of a 1% sales tax that funds public infrastructure, including road and bridge repair for the next five years. This measure would maintain rather than increase the current tax rate. It is expected to yield about $60 million over the next five years.

In DeKalb County, voters in the Village of Waterman approved a 1% sales tax to fund municipal operations, on public infrastructure, or property tax relief with nearly two-thirds of the voters voting Yes.

Most races in Tuesday’s primaries for the Illinois General Assembly have been fully tabulated, but some that involve McHenrty County are still incomplete.

Only one State Senate primary affects the WNIJ listening area directly, and all the returns still had not been filed as of late this morning. A three-way Republican race in the 26th Senate District shows Dan McConchie with just under 36% of the vote, Casey Urlacher in second place with a little less than 34%, and Martin McLaughlin with just over 30%.

Results were mixed Tuesday for area fire-protection districts in their requests to increase property tax assessments on the communities they serve. One district actually increased its taxpayer base.

The Blackhawk Fire Protection District southwest of Rockford received approval for a special tax of not more than .05% of assessed property value to pay for emergency and rescue crews and equipment.

There were solid wins in four of the area Congressional primaries Tuesday and one really tight contest. Only one incumbent faced primary opposition.

In the 17th District, Republican Patrick Harlan took nearly 76 percent of the vote over Knox County Tea Party leader Jack Boccarossa to win the right to face Democratic incumbent Cheri Bustos in the fall.

Upset Posted For Boone County Prosecutor

Mar 15, 2016

In the Republican race for Boone County State’s Attorney, challenger Tricia L. Smith upset two-term incumbent Michele Courier by nearly six percentage points.

Courier ran on her record of convictions and pursuing gang members in the county.

Smith cited her experience as a Rockford police officer, a prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney as well as civil court experience.

It is the first time in Boone County history that two women have faced each other to be the county’s top prosecutor. No Democratic candidates have filed.

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