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Mitt Romney and Allies Poised for Multi-Million-Dollar Illinois TV Blitz

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- The ink is not yet dry on Tuesday’s Southern primaries, but the candidates are already gearing up for battle in two of the month’s remaining contests: Illinois and Louisiana.

With recent polls showing Mitt Romney locked in a closer-than-expected race with Rick Santorum in Illinois, Romney’s campaign is buying up airtime ahead of the state’s March 20 primary -- to the tune of nearly $1 million.

The Romney campaign has reserved more than $800,000 worth of TV ad time on local broadcast channels, focusing on Chicago with smaller buys in the Springfield, Peoria and Rockford markets. The campaign is spending another $134,000 on cable ad purchases throughout the state, according to a Republican media buyer tracking the spending.

Romney is getting a big assist from the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which has already purchased more than $900,000 worth of airtime, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And sources tracking ad buys indicate the super PAC has bought up as much as $1.5 million more in TV time in just the last week. More than half of that is being spent in the greater Chicago area.

That means pro-Romney forces could wind up spending well over $3 million -- and perhaps more -- in Illinois.

A recent Chicago Tribune-WGN poll found Romney leading Santorum in the state, 35 percent to 31 percent.

Romney will be campaigning there before next Tuesday’s primary. He is slated to attend a fundraiser in Peoria with Congressman Aaron Schock. And two Romney supporters -- former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, chairman of Romney’s Illinois campaign -- are doing a statewide fly-around on Wednesday.

Illinois is an expensive state for television advertising, and neither the Santorum campaign nor the pro-Santorum super PAC have yet to make any ad buys there. Instead, Santorum’s team has invested a modest amount -- just over $30,000 -- on the airwaves in Louisiana, which holds its primary on March 24.

The cable buy is about evenly split between New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Monroe, Louisiana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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