A political newcomer's challenge of a clout-rich incumbent Illinois state representative came to an end Tuesday when former HuffPost Chicago Associate Editor Will Guzzardi conceded defeat in the state's 39th District.
Guzzardi conceded to state Rep. Maria Antonia "Toni" Berrios, six weeks after the primary election, in a statement released early Tuesday.
Guzzardi's campaign had been in the midst of investigating what they called reports of Election Day inconsistencies, and though they say they "found some evidence" of foul play, Guzzardi said Tuesday that the evidence was "not enough to sustain a formal legal complaint in court." Monday was the deadline by which Guzzardi would have needed to formally challenge the primary election results.
The day after the Illinois state primary election in March, the race between Guzzardi and Berrios remained too close to call -- as of March 21, only 111 votes separated the two. While Guzzardi held majorities in five of the district's seven wards -- he came up short in two -- the 30th Ward in Irving Park and the 31st Ward in Hermosa.
But Berrios widened that gap by the time all the district's votes were counted, and pulled out a 125-vote victory, the Associated Press reports. Her victory withstood a discovery recount. Guzzardi congratulated Berrios, first elected in 2002, on the win.
The 31st Ward is where Toni Berrios' father, Joe Berrios serves as the powerful Ward Democratic Committeeman. Joe Berrios also serves as Cook County Assessor. Berrios was supported by Democratic Majority, the political campaign fund of House Speaker Michael Madigan and was also supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Guzzardi was backed by the Chicago Tribune and a spate of teachers unions, among other groups.
Guzzardi told WBEZ that his narrow loss was proof that "the machine isn’t invincible." He said that he may run for public office again and will continue to organize in the Northwest Side neighborhood where he lives.
"Right up to Election Day, people thought we were foolish for even trying to take it on. The close result proves that organized people and organized communities can stand up to entrenched power," Guzzardi told WBEZ.
In a Chicago Reporter story, Manuel Galvan, Berrios' press secretary, declined comment on allegations of Election Day irregularities, adding that they would continue to do so until Guzzardi filed a formal complaint.
Berrios is running unopposed in the November general election.