LAS VEGAS -- Native daughter Hillary Rodham Clinton is sending in staff to help land some delegates in the Feb. 5 Illinois primary, ramping up an operation in the Land of Obama because the name of the game in winning the Democratic presidential nomination is collecting delegates.
Illinois is not a winner-take-all state when it comes to claiming the delegates to be elected Feb. 5 from each of the 19 congressional districts in the state, which is why Clinton has a chance of picking up some delegates in Barack Obama's home state.
If Clinton meets a threshold of 15 percent of the statewide vote and then gets at least 15 percent in a congressional district, she will be able to claim delegates, the number depending on her turnout.
Because New York also doles out delegates in proportion to the vote, Obama has been making incursions into Clinton's adopted state. A reason John Edwards will continue to be a factor -- though he has not scored any wins -- is that he is picking up delegates along the way, even if not winning any states.
Clinton was born in Chicago at Edgewater Hospital, reared in Park Ridge and has a base in Illinois of friends and former Clinton administration appointees who have formed the core of her Illinois operation. And though Obama has raised millions of dollars from Illinois for his White House war chest, so has Clinton.
Clinton campaign spokesman Stacy Zolt Hara said several field staffers will arrive Monday, and Hara will switch her status from volunteer to staffer now that the Feb. 5 contests in Illinois and about 20 other states are coming into play.
Hara said Clinton has strengths in some Downstate districts and suggested that Clinton will be making a targeted geographic play. Obama has also been organizing in Illinois since he launched his Chicago-based campaign nearly a year ago.
Clinton is "playing here to win as many delegates as possible," Hara said.