03/16/2012 08:49 am ET

Illinois Primary: Obama, GOP Candidates In Chicago For Fundraisers, Rallies

President Barack Obama is embarking on a concentrated one-day fundraising trip, with a stop in his hometown of Chicago and another in Atlanta for a big-draw event with film producer Tyler Perry and performer Cee Lo Green.

Obama has been increasing his fundraising pace in preparation for his showdown with a Republican presidential nominee. All of the GOP nominees have also descended upon Obama's hometown in advance of the March 20 Illinois primary.

Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Obama will hold two fundraisers at the Palmer House Friday. Penny Pritzker, Gov. Pat Quinn, David Axelrod, Bill Daley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others are expected to attend, and tickets for the events range from $2,500 to $35,800, Sweet reports.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was in suburban Rosemont greeting voters Friday morning, before heading to a rally in Puerto Rico. He is expected to return to Illinois over the weekend and for an election night event Tuesday in Wheaton.

While Illinois is not usually such an important state for GOP candidates -- Obama is expected to easily win his home state -- there are 54 delegates at stake in the state, which Romney and Rick Santorum both hope to snatch up.

Rick Santorum has two suburban Chicago events scheduled for Friday, including one at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. He will later hold a "Rally for Rick" in the same suburb.

Initially, Santorum failed to gather enough signatures for 10 of Illinois' 18 congressional districts, but Romney at the time allowed his opponent to stay on the ballot -- which he might regret now. Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford, who may be running against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014, ultimately made the decision to keep Santorum on the ballot. Sources told BuzzFeed that Illinois conservatives would have "started screaming bloody murder" if they blocked the former Pennsylvania senator from the ballot.

"This isn't about Romney, it’s about Rutherford," an Illinois Romney supporter told BuzzFeed.

With all eyes on Illinois Tuesday, President Obama's supporters aren't about to let the GOP steal the show.

Lynn Sweet reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Grammy winner John Legend will headline a "major donor" fundraiser in Chicago on Tuesday, which will feature a performance by Legend.

Despite all the hoopla, early voter turnout in the state has been dismal, the Chicago Tribune reports.