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SPRINGFIELD — Leading Illinois Republicans acknowledged the stark political reality their party faces in the state at a joint breakfast of the state central committee and county chairmen’s association Thursday, but said the state’s “aggressive progressive” swing to the left this year offers them an opportunity to rebound.

The number of households receiving federal benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, is at its lowest level in nine years, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the program.