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Romney is projected winner of Illinois primary

Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-20 23:00:41-04

(CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney scored a decisive win in Tuesday night's Illinois Republican presidential primary, CNN projects, running ahead of his top remaining rival by a double-digit margin.

There were 54 delegates at stake in today's Illinois primary and Mitt Romney is going home with the majority of them.

Republican voters took to the polls and once again proved, they are not ready to unite behind a single GOP presidential candidate.

Another Tuesday, another must-win contest for Mitt Romney. Tonight, the former Massachusetts governor claims victory in Illinois.

"Elections are about choices and today hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois have joined millions of people from across the country to join our cause,” said Romney.

Romney won’t be leaving Illinois with the entire pie of delegates.

He'll have to share proportionally with the competition.

Rick Santorum will take a slice since he finished second.

The former senator opted to spend primary day in Pennsylvania.

"We're going to win down state, we're going to win W.Illinois,” said Santorum.”We won the areas conservatives and Republicans populate and we're happy about that.”

Also absent from Illinois: Newt Gingrich.

He is focusing his attention where he's done best, the conservative south.

Gingrich is channeling all his campaign resources into Saturday’s primary in Louisiana and taking on his toughest competition there; Santorum.

"He lost the Senate in Pennsylvania by the largest margin in the history of the state for any incumbents being reelected. So you have to ask yourself, is that really the background to try to take on Barack Obama,” said Gingrich.

Ron Paul is on the west coast, meeting with supporters in California.

Although he still lags in the delegate count, Paul vows to stay in the race.

And with the Republican convention still five months away, this race has a long way to go.