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Poll: Democrat Holds Early Lead For Weller Seat

Illinois Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat, holds an 11-point lead over Republican businessman Martin Ozinga in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), according to an internal poll released by the Halvorson campaign.

The survey shows Halvorson leading Ozinga, 43 percent to 32 percent, but with most voters still unfamiliar with the candidates.

The poll more precisely reflects the newfound Democratic advantage in the traditionally Republican district, finding President Bush with only a 36 percent approval rating in the district and half those surveyed viewing congressional Republicans unfavorably.

Democrats, meanwhile, hold a 42 percent to 36 percent lead over Republicans on the generic ballot test. A 49 percent plurality of respondents said they view congressional Democrats favorably.  And only 16 percent of district voters said the country was moving in the right direction.

The telephone poll, conducted by Anzalone-Liszt, surveyed 500 likely voters May 18-22. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Weller's Joliet-based district has leaned Republican in recent years, with Bush winning there with 53 percent of the vote in 2004.

The race Halvorson-Ozinga contest is shaping up as a closely contested and expensive race, with both candidates among their party's most effective fundraisers this election cycle. 

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