Hillary Clinton wins Illinois primary

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in Illinois.

The former secretary of state narrowly defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday to claim victory in the state where she was born.

At stake are 182 delegates, most of which will be awarded proportionately based on Tuesday's results. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

This may have been the most important in the Democratic race for the nomination so far. Tuesday night, Clinton dispelled any doubts about her candidacy raised after last week's loss in the Michigan primary.

"We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November," Clinton said to a crowd of supporters in Florida.

Minutes after she was projected the winner in Ohio, Clinton thanked her supporters in the five states that held primaries. She also congratulated her primary opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

"And I want to congratulate Senator Sanders for the vigorous campaign he's waging," she said.

Last week, Sanders sent the Clinton campaign reeling with a surprise win in Michigan. Secretary Clinton, with an assist from her husband, intensified their Illinois effort with multiple events over several days, including a South Side appearance by Former President Bill Clinton on Election Day.

"There's a blame candidate and a responsibility candidate in this race. I'm betting the responsibility candidate wins," he said.

In her victory speech, Secretary Clinton focused on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, citing what she called his "bluster and bigotry."

"That doesn't make him strong," she said. "It makes him wrong."

This was the first time Clinton has mentioned Donald Trump by name in a speech so far in the campaign, possibly a sign she's turning her attention to the general election.

In Chicago, Clinton supporters cheered at their results viewing party. Her supporters in the city are calling this a defining day in her campaign.

"So much of politics is momentum, and it seems like clearly there's a lot of momentum," says Kevin Conlon, the Clinton Illinois Campaign co-chair. "I think her message is starting to resonate. She's building a lot of energy.

A diverse group of supporters were in attendance on the near north side, and a lot of energy in the room as Clinton gave her speech in Florida. Just 24 hours ago there was some anxiety amongst supporters in Illinois, as momentum appeared to be on Sanders' side. But after tonight many of those at the party said they're looking ahead to November.

"A lot of my fellow Democrats are making the right choice and choosing a candidate who they know can put forward effective policy and actually make some positive change," says supporter Sean Brennan.

"I'm just really happy for her," says supporter Valerie Peacock. "I think she's done a great job. Her speech in Florida was fantastic. I think it really got everybody even more excited."

Bernie Sanders will watch the results in Phoenix, Ariz., whose primary is March 22. At the Bernie Sanders results watch party in Chicago, supporters are not ready to call the Illinois primary quite yet. They believe his percentage will grow as downstate votes comes in. They are hoping to see Sanders pull off the same kind of upset he did in Michigan.

In his speech in Arizona, he didn't mention any of the night's races. Instead it sounded more like a stump speech, touching on his positions on Wall Street and economic reform, before ending on a message of unity.

"If we stand together as people born in America, or people who have come to this country, if we stand together there is nothing we cannot accomplish," Sanders said.

Chuy Garcia was expected to attend the Sanders watch party Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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