Could trouble be brewing for Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich and State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville)? A recent poll suggests the possibility.

Commissioned by Topinka in several downstate Democratic districts, the poll shows her leading Blagojevich 35.8 to 30.1 percent in the 112th House District. 34.2 percent of the 369 people polled in the 112th were undecided.

"Blagojevich has shot his wad already" said Republican state representative candidate Carol Kugler. "He's spent state money telling people what a good guy he is. But people are beginning to become aware of the state's financial troubles."

Kugler, a retired teacher, will face Hoffman in the November general election. In 2004, Kugler mounted an independent write-in campaign against Hoffman and earned more than 5,000 votes.

She said that Hoffman, as the governor's "right hand person," is just as much to blame for the state's budget crisis.

The Illinois General Assembly, which was schedule to adjourn April 7, has gone into overtime to pass a budget under the weight of an estimated $20 billion deficit.

"(Hoffman) is as responsible for the problems," Kugler said. "He is part of that administration. I think a lot of people are tired of seeing the state go downhill."

Topinka reportedly ordered the poll out of curiosity about her downstate numbers in Democratic turf.

In the primary election of March 21, Topinka did not fare so well in the Metro-East. She was trounced by challenger Jim Oberweis in Madison and St. Clair counties, 7,761 to 4,508.

In a crowded field of candidates, Topinka won the state nomination with 38 percent of the vote to closest challenger Oberweis' 31 percent.

According to the recent poll, Topinka is tied with Blagojevich in State Sen. Bill Haine's (D-Alton) 56th District. Haine is not running for election in 2006.

In what is considered a Democratic stronghold, a survey of 777 respondents in the 56th showed that more people, 35.65 percent, were undecided, compared to a 32.18 tie between Topinka and Blagojevich.

"It's a very big plus for Republicans," said Jason Plummer, Madison County Republican Central Committee chairman.

Plummer observed that in the 2004 general election results were positive for President George Bush and Illinois Supreme Court justice Lloyd Karmeier in the Democratically-dominated Metro-East. He said that conservative issues -- whether they're local or national -- resonate with downstate voters.

"We're seeing a trend in favor of Republicans," said Plummer.

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