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Thompson Has Lead on Kozlar in 11th Ward Runoff

By David Matthews | April 6, 2015 5:31pm | Updated on April 7, 2015 7:52pm
 11th Ward Aldermanic candidates John Kozlar (l.) and Patrick Daley Thompson.
11th Ward Aldermanic candidates John Kozlar (l.) and Patrick Daley Thompson.
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BRIDGEPORT — Tuesday's unprecedented runoff election for 11th Ward Alderman pits a Daley against a law student.

And Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patrick Daley Thompson, a Daley family scion and frontrunner in the race, immediately jumped to an early lead in the race, commanding a 20-point lead on law student John Kozlar with 76 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night.

By 7:40 p.m. Thompson had yet to appear at his campaign party in Bridgeport, but the crowd that packed Laborers' International Union Hall provided great contrast to his empty campaign headquarters the night of the February election.

Nearby, Kozlar said at his party that his campaign gave it everything they could.

"At the end of the day we gave it 110 percent," he said.

Like February's election, turnout was low in at least two precincts Tuesday in the fabled South Side ward, with campaign volunteers seemingly outnumbering voters at the polls. Only 151, or 12.5 percent of registered voters, cast their ballots at the Chicago Police station at 32nd and Halsted streets by 3 p.m.

(All photos by DNAinfo/David Matthews)

Nearby at Richard J. Daley Library, 3400 S. Halsted St., turnout was closer to 20 percent by 3:45 p.m., and judges at both polls were optimistic more voters would arrive after work hours. Meanwhile, volunteers in both precincts were out in force for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Patrick Daley Thompson, a Daley family scion and frontrunner in the race. He's in a runoff against 26-year-old John Kozlar.

"We have someone with experience, a good track record, and solid plans that are viable in this area," said a Thompson volunteer who declined to give his name. "That's what we need."

Though Thompson is presenting himself as the more qualified aldermanic candidate, his political experience and connections turn off some 11th Ward voters. One of them is Danielle Jones, who moved to Bridgeport three years ago.

Bridgeport voter Danielle Jones after casting her vote at Richard J. Daley library.

"I don't trust these politicians," said Jones, who cast her aldermanic vote for the law student Kozlar. "I'm voting for the underdog hoping there will be change."

Jones said she would like to see a new dog park in her neighborhood, as well as more bicycle lanes. Despite her desire for more "change" in the neighborhood, however, she said "everything else is good" in the ward.

By about 5:45 p.m., Kozlar reported "slightly better" voter turnout as his campaign made stops at all the ward's polling places. He was optimistic more voters would cast their ballots in the election's final hour.

"The bigger the turnout, the better it is for change to happen," he said.

Though he's not the favorite to be the ward's next alderman, Kozlar was still optimistic about his chances Tuesday afternoon. He spent the majority of election day thanking voters and volunteers.

"I told them 'thank you for being a part of this process, and let's go get 'em,'" Kozlar said.

Dave Bayless, a spokesman for the Thompson campaign, reported a "quiet" election day with no shenanigans to speak of at the 11th Ward polls. Bayless said Thompson also spent Tuesday visiting every polling place before the votes are tallied.

"[Thompson has] actually enjoyed the last six weeks. He walked every day, knocked on doors every single day and learned a lot about what voters are concerned about," Bayless said.

Thompson is hosting his watch party at Laborers' International Union Hall, 3841 S. Halsted St. Kozlar is hosting his party at Thirty3 Bar & Grill, 3304 S. Halsted.

Meanwhile, Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St., is conducting its own poll.

Maria's, a bar in Bridgeport.

The South Side watering hole is offering patrons $8 drink specials named after Thompson and Kozlar, as well as mayoral candidates Rahm Emanuel and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia on Tuesday, and tallying the orders. Here are the cocktails:

• "The Cash" (Emanuel): Bartender's choice of draft beer plus a shot of Evan Williams Bourbon.

• "The Stache" (Garcia): A Modelo draft and shot of Jose Cuervo Tequila.

• "The South Slider" (Thompson): A draft of Marz beer brewed in Bridgeport.

• "The White Elephant" (Kozlar): Due to a lack of White Elephant beer, the Kozlar is now a cocktail composed of peach ginger vodka, black tea, and organic lemonade.

As of 5:20 p.m., only one drink (Kozlar's) had been ordered at Maria's, which opened at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Thompson, a grandson of former Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, held a 27-point lead over Kozlar in a recent Ogden & Fry poll conducted for political news website Aldertrack

Kozlar, who also leads the Canaryville Little League, forced the runoff against Thompson in February after capturing 35 percent of the ward vote, preventing the Daley scion from winning the aldermanic office outright. 

Thompson has since deployed more of his superior war chest and campaigned at events with political allies, including U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. He told DNAinfo Chicago in February that turning out more voters was key to his runoff election strategy.

David Matthews breaks down the race:

Kozlar, meanwhile, is casting himself as a City Hall outsider, aiming to appeal to voters leery of Chicago's political establishment. Both candidates are campaigning on a platform of bringing more retail and private investment to the ward, which covers all or parts of Bridgeport, Canaryville, Pilsen and University Village.

The Daley political dynasty, of course, hails from Bridgeport. But Thompson's support dropped precipitously in Pilsen, where in February he drew less than 30 percent of votes in some precincts

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