President Donald Trump's campaign on Thursday filed to appear on the ballot in Illinois' primary and general elections later this year.
Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost, both Republicans, appeared at the Illinois State Board of Elections in Springfield to submit Trump's petitions and paperwork. They were joined by Tim Schneider, the chair of the Illinois Republican Party, as well as other supporters, some holding Trump signs or wearing variations of his signature hat.
"We were proud to be here today to file the petitions and the paperwork necessary to put President Donald J. Trump on the ballot for the primary in March and also the general election in November," LaHood told reporters afterward. "Proud to have all of the people that helped accomplish what we did today. That's the circulators, the people all over this state that support that president."
Illinois has long been a Democratic stronghold in presidential elections, anchored by Chicago, reliably delivering the state's electoral votes (now 20) to the Democratic nominee in every election since 1992. When asked if the state would be in play for Trump, LaHood showed no hesitation.
"Absolutely it is. The president was just here in October to visit Illinois," LaHood said, referencing Trump's first visit to Chicago as president late last year.
"We'll expect him back here in Illinois, I think it's central Illinois, southern Illinois and the Chicago suburbs between now and the election and his message and the accomplishments that he's got through over the last three years I think will show that Illinois will be in play," he continued.
Trump was one of 11 candidates for president to submit paperwork in Illinois as of Thursday afternoon, the first day of the filing period. The 10 other candidates are running for the Democratic nomination: Sens. Michael Bennet, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.
Conservative firebrand Joe Walsh, a radio host and former Illinois congressman, announced in August that he would challenge Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, but did not file his paperwork Thursday morning. The filing period ends Friday, with a lottery for ballot placement scheduled for Monday.