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In observance of the Presidents Day holiday, The Times newspaper will not be published February 18. Breaking news and information will be updated on

Around the state 2-5-18

Republican Senate candidate clients included Pritzker Group
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson's consulting clients includes companies owned, or invested in, by Pritzker Group, a financial firm started by J.B. Pritzker, a Democratic mega-donor and candidate for governor in Illinois.
Nicholson reported last month that he had been paid at least $15,000 from Pritzker-related companies over the past two years.
Nicholson is running against Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir in the primary, with the winner taking on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Nicholson works as a business consultant for the Chicago firm ghSMART. He reported income from the Pritzker companies in filings last month.
Nicholson spokesman Brandon Moody did not address that work specifically, but said Monday that Nicholson has been "working hand in hand with the Senate Ethics Committee" to fulfill his reporting requirements.
Vukmir's spokesman declined to comment.
Chicago area could see nearly 2-week delay of early voting
CHICAGO (AP) — Officials say early voting could be delayed by nearly two weeks for millions of Chicago-area voters because of candidate ballot challenges.
Early voting starts Thursday. However, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said Monday that because of ongoing candidate objections, ballots won't be ready. Systems will be tested and available by Feb. 21, possibly earlier.
Roughly 3 million registered voters in Chicago and suburban Cook County will be affected. DuPage County officials say they'll delay until Feb. 12.
It's unclear which other locations may delay.
State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich says the decision is up to each jurisdiction.
One objection involves the attorney general race. A judge determined Scott Drury's name can't appear on ballots over paperwork issues, but a stay granted Monday means his name can remain while the case is appealed.
Candidate Drury's name can remain on ballot during appeal
CHICAGO (AP) — A judge says attorney general candidate Scott Drury's name can remain on ballots for the March 20 primary while a decision to remove his name from the ballot is being appealed.
A stay was granted Monday after a Cook County judge determined Friday that the Democratic legislator couldn't be on the ballot over paperwork issues. Drury immediately appealed on an expedited basis.
The case is one reason that early voting is being delayed around the Chicago area.
Drury is a state representative from Highwood and among eight Democrats seeking the party's nomination in the March 20 primary. The case hinges on whether he properly submitted a statement of economic interest to election officials.
A State Board of Elections hearing officer had recommended Drury's removal, while the board's general counsel disagreed.
Northern Illinois city of Rockford sees 2017 drop in crime
ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — The northern Illinois city of Rockford is getting some good news about crime.
Statistics released by the city's police department show that violent crime fell 5 percent in 2017 from the previous year and property crime dropped 8 percent during the same period.
Crimes such as robbery and homicide are of particular concern among residents in Illinois' third largest city. The Rockford Register Star reports the drop in those categories was significant. The number of robberies fell to 421 last year from 543 the year before.
And after the number of homicides climbed to 27 in 2016 — the most in the city since 1996 — the city recorded 18 homicides last year.
Officer accused of sharing alleged white supremacist posts
CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors have reached a last minute plea bargain with a black man after his attorneys discovered alleged white supremacist social media posts involving a potential key witness, who is a veteran Chicago police officer.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Sean Najm is among the officers who arrested 25-year-old Edwin Brown for drug and weapons charges. Najm denies that any of the Facebook posts are racist and insists he has innocent explanations for them.
Facebook posts show Najm also belongs to a motorcycle group called the American Knights, which describes itself as a club that promotes "motorcycle riding with like-minded people."
Brown pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing heroin with intent to deliver in return for a dropped gun charge. He has been released and permitted to stay with his grandmother.
Chicago police form task force to combat carjackings
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Police Department is leading a team of law enforcement agencies to combat the fastest growing crime in the city: carjackings.
The Chicago  Sun-Times reports that  Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is announcing the formation of a team that will include members of his department, the FBI, the Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Illinois State Police and local and federal prosecutors.
Johnson won't say how many people will be assigned to the new unit or how it would address what has become a disturbing trend in the city.
Last year, there were nearly 1,000 carjackings compared to 663 in 2016.   This year the numbers are continuing to rise. In January, there were 86 carjackings — a 19 percent increase over the same period last year.
Holocaust denier likely to be GOP nominee for Congress
CHICAGO (AP) — An outspoken Holocaust denier is likely to appear on the November ballot as the Republican nominee for a Chicago-area congressional district.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 70-year-old Arthur Jones of Lyons is the only Republican candidate in the March 20 primary for the 3rd Congressional District. The heavily Democratic district stretches from Chicago's southwest side to suburban Western Springs and LaGrange.
Jones calls the Holocaust "the biggest, blackest lie in history." He says he's a former leader of the American Nazi Party and now leads a group open to "any white American citizen of European, non-Jewish descent."
Jones has run before but never been a viable candidate. This year, Illinois Republicans didn't field another candidate and no one challenged Jones' petitions.
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider says: "We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office."
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and Marie Newman are seeking the Democratic nomination.

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