Presidential election follies are coming to the Land of Lincoln.
It looks like Illinois Republicans — and perhaps some mischief-making Democrats — will have a rare opportunity to play a meaningful role in the GOP's presidential nomination process.
With Illinois' March 20 primary just 12 days off, the race for the Republican nomination is far from decided. That means that for the first time in many years, Illinois Republicans will cast ballots with their party's contest still up for grabs.
It's been many years since voters from either party in Illinois have had the opportunity to play a critical role in the presidential nominating process. Just four years ago, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and legislative Democrats moved the primary date from mid-March to early February to give Barack Obama a boost in his campaign to win the Democratic Party's nomination.
Other than that, candidates from both parties have had their nominations largely secured before getting to Illinois.
There's no question that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a good lead in his quest for nomination. But as far as delegates accrued, Romney still has a long way to go. Plus, his GOP challengers Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have shown the ability to surprise.
So it's not over, and it probably still won't be over until the Illinois primary is a distant memory.
These races come and go quickly. Who's thinking or talking about the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary now? What matters is what's dead ahead.
March 20 will be Illinois' day in the nation's spotlight. Enjoy it. This opportunity doesn't come around often.