Berrios concedes to Guzzardi in fight for state House seat

By Ray Long and Maura Zurick Tribune reporters

The daughter of Cook County Democratic Chairman Joe Berrios conceded defeat Tuesday night in her tough primary battle to hold on to a state House seat on the Northwest Side.

Joe Berrios said his daughter, Rep. Maria Antonia “Toni” Berrios, called challenger Will Guzzardi.

“Congratulations to Will Guzzardi. It is an honor to serve the 39th District,” Toni Berrios said in a statement released by her campaign.

In addition to her father, Berrios was backed  by House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state party chairman, in her bid to to extend her 12-year hold on the state House seat.

Madigan also sought to protect Rep. Derrick Smith, the West Side lawmaker trying to win his third straight election since being arrested on federal bribery charges in 2012. Madigan poured campaign staff and more than $70,000 into the race.

Two Chicago freshman lawmakers, Reps. Jaime Andrade and Christian Mitchell, also faced Democratic primary challenges sparked by their votes for public pension changes that were opposed by organized labor.

In the Republican primary, Rep. Ron Sandack, a former Downers Grove mayor, was targeted by conservative forces who argued his votes for gay marriage and pension reform were too liberal for his west suburban district. He faced a tough contest against Keith Matune, a high school teacher in Aurora and school board member in Downers Grove.

In other suburban races, Republican Rep. Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn sought a seventh term against more conservative challenger Peter Breen of Lombard. Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti and Chris Nybo, both of Elmhurst, were in a tough fight for the nomination to replace Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, who instead ran for governor. Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr., faced fellow Mundelein Republican Bob Bednar, a school bus driver.

The primary battles represented a struggle over local political might because Democrats will retain control of the House and Senate no matter who makes it to the general election.

The Chicago-based primaries are virtually the whole ballgame because Democrats control nearly every neighborhood.

Andrade, appointed to replace now-Ald. Deb Mell (3rd), was in a five-way contest against Nancy Schiavone, the 35th Ward committeeman; Aaron Goldstein, a trial lawyer for imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich; Wendy Jo Harmston; and Mark Pasieka.

Mitchell, who drew virulent opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union, was in a race against Jay Travis, a community activist in a district that runs from the Gold Coast deep into the South Side.

The headline race in Chicago featured Berrios against Will Guzzardi, who lost to her by 125 votes two years ago. He once again attacked the bossism image of her father, the Cook party chair who stuffed his county assessor office with relatives.

In addition to Madigan, Berrios got backing from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago.

Smith won the 2012 primary days after his March arrest on charges he took $7,000 in exchange for his help with a $50,000 state grant—a ruse set up in a federal sting. Madigan presided over Smith’s expulsion from the House months later, but the lawmaker won a comeback victory in the November general election.

Smith’s opponents included a Chicago police sergeant, Eddie Winters, who had filled in for Smith when he was tossed out by the House in 2012. Also running were attorney Pamela Reaves-Harris, Antwan Hampton, who teaches communications at Northern Illinois University, and Beverly Perteet, a former Chicago Public Schools teacher and community activist.

A second indicted West Side lawmaker, Rep. LaShawn Ford, had no primary opposition despite facing his own bank fraud charges. Smith and Ford have both pleaded not guilty and have May trial dates.

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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2 comments

  • Ismael

    Her last name sunk her. The Berrios family is a hot potato right now in Crook county. Joe Berrios cost the county half a million bucks and the people didn't forget. It didn't matter She was part of the Chicago political machine.

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