CHAMPAIGN — Republicans may have a big race for their presidential nomination but you'd never know it looking at Illinois.
So far, only Mitt Romney has a slate of delegate candidates in Illinois, and the deadline to get on the ballot is 5 p.m. Friday.
But a coordinator for former Sen. Rick Santorum, who finished a close second in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, said the Pennsylvania Republican would have a delegate slate in most Illinois congressional districts.
The 13th Congressional District slate, which includes Champaign-Urbana, will be filed on Friday, according to coordinator Jon Zahm of Osco. It will include delegate candidates Kevin Hughes of Lovington, James P. Woods of Chesterfield and Patti Williamson-Hughes of Lovington, plus alternate delegate candidates Christopher Bethel of Collinsville, Rick Williams of Mahomet and Martha Ruppert of Hillsboro.
The Santorum campaign didn't begin to organize in Illinois until Dec. 24, Zahm said.
"I've been working all through the holidays. And we have a lot of volunteers; some of the leaders of the conservative movement in Illinois are behind us 100 percent and have been since before Christmas," Zahm said. "They weren't waiting to see how yesterday went. They knew the quality of Rick's character."
Zahm said the Santorum campaign hopes to have full delegate slates in every Illinois congressional district except the 4th, 5th and 7th in Chicago.
Santorum also will be on the presidential preference ballot in Illinois, Zahm predicted.
Romney and Ron Paul already are entered on Illinois' GOP presidential preference ballot.
Supporters of one candidate who had earlier announced a slate of delegate hopefuls — Newt Gingrich — may be having trouble gathering signatures for candidate petitions.
"I would assume (to be on the ballot). But I know they were having trouble getting signatures on petitions," said former state Rep. Bill Black of Danville, who is listed as a delegate on Gingrich's 15th Congressional District slate, which has yet to be filed.
The Romney organization had an advantage in Illinois, said Champaign County Republican Party Treasurer Habeeb Habeeb, by having run in the state in 2008.
"It's all about resources and time and money," said Habeeb, who is listed on Romney's slate as an alternate delegate. "Romney was so far ahead because his organization, his machine, was already there from before. They knew they had deadlines. It's like being in business for several years. You know what you have to do when.
"In my business, we're busy at the end of the year. I know how to prepare for it ahead of time. There's an advantage for a candidate who's been around."
Romney, he said, "was the first out of the gate and was best organized. I still think he is the most electable of all of them."