SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois’ electoral votes haven’t gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, but state Treasurer Dan Rutherford thinks 2012 could turn Illinois red once again.

Rutherford chairs presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s primary campaign in Illinois. Rutherford is confident about his candidate’s chances here, but he cautions a lot of steps must be taken before the national convention in Florida. He says Romney has, so far, not wasted time in connecting with Illinois voters.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports

“Gov. Romney was just here with us in May, I spent a full day and a half with him. He will be back again,” Rutherford said. “We need, No. 1, the delegates to go with Mitt Romney, and after that we’ll start to put together the strategy for the general election.”

Rutherford says he’s not concerned by Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann’s close proximity to Romney in public opinion polls, because polls don’t elect presidents.

Rutherford says Romney, unlike Bachmann, has well established name recognition, a solid fundraising base, and is focused more on the economy than any other issue – something Rutherford thinks will play well in Illinois.

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