Two weeks after the polls closed, Bolingbrook’s hottest election in decades is finally over.
And Mayor Roger Claar has survived his closest election race in 30 years at the helm of the southwest suburb, after a furious voter backlash triggered by his support of President Donald Trump.
Challenger Jackie Traynere conceded on Tuesday as mail-in and provisional ballots put Claar ahead 6,425 votes to 6,274 — a 151-vote victory margin that assured him of a ninth term.
Claar had clung to a 104-vote lead on the night of the April 4 election. He ended up winning 50.6 percent of the vote to Traynere’s 49.4 percent, though results from the Will and DuPage county clerks’ offices won’t be official until April 25.
The race drew national attention as a possible referendum on the first few month’s of Trump’s presidency. Traynere, a labor organizer and Bernie Sanders delegate, capitalized on resentment against Claar for throwing a campaign fundraiser for Trump in a village that voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in November’s election.
“We came up just a little bit short,” Traynere said in a statement Tuesday. “I want to thank our volunteers, my family, and countless supporters who believed in a new direction in Bolingbrook. That will happen because of what we accomplished a few weeks ago, just not as swiftly as we had hoped.”
Claar did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday evening. A day after the election, he told the Chicago Sun-Times that he felt like David battling Traynere’s Goliath. Municipal candidates don’t usually run on major-party tickets, but high-profile Democrats such as U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth threw their weight behind Traynere.
“It was an onslaught I never anticipated from the Dem party sticking their noses into what has been a nonpartisan municipal election for the past 52 years,” Claar said.
“I didn’t want people from the Republican party coming in and calling the shots,” he said. “I ran on the Bolingbrook First ticket. She ran on the United Party ticket — but she had the Dem party behind her big-time.”
Claar was first appointed mayor in 1986 and coasted to victory in the next eight elections as the suburb more than doubled in population. He also skated through controversy in 1997 when he was acquitted of a misdemeanor DUI charge, and weathered allegations of accepting improper — though legal — campaign contributions while serving as the village liquor commissioner.
“I think people are generally pretty happy with what’s going on in Bolingbrook,” he said earlier this year.