Trump-supporting mayor appears to survive re-election scare

BOLINGBROOK, Ill.  — A longtime suburban Chicago mayor who held a fundraiser for President Donald Trump last year was holding on to a narrow lead in his re-election battle with a union organizer backed by top Democrats.

With all precincts reporting late Tuesday, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar held a 62-vote lead over Will County Commissioner Jackie Traynere.

The county clerk’s office said vote by mail ballots postmarked by April 4 and provisional ballots remain to be counted. The vote tally will be made official April 24.

Traynere spokesman Tom Bowen acknowledged because of the number of outstanding votes, Traynere is facing an “uphill battle.”

“Jackie called him and congratulated him on a great race,” Bowen said.

Claar did not return telephone calls seeking comment late Tuesday.

Claar hosted a fundraiser for Trump in September, which angered some voters in the suburb of about 75,000 people. As a result, support for Traynere poured in from top Democrats nationwide, including from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and a group spun out of the campaign of former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The municipal contest was seen as an early test of whether local candidates who supported Trump in last year’s blistering presidential election face backlash at the polls.

Traynere said Trump’s visit to the community roughly 30 miles from Chicago “opened a door of opportunity that we wouldn’t have had.”

“There’s clearly something in the air for change,” Traynere said.

Claar has easily won other re-election battles since taking office in 1986.

He previously dismissed the situation in Bolingbrook, saying Democrats are “trying to take over” and that partisan politics shouldn’t be a factor in the race. His tenure has seen major development and growth in Bolingbrook.

The municipal contest is technically nonpartisan. But concerns raised in the presidential campaign and initial months of Trump’s tenure have hit home in the racially diverse community with two mosques and where at least 20 percent of the community is foreign born.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition asking Claar not to hold the Trump fundraiser, noting the Republican’s derogatory comments about immigrants, Muslims and women. Claar was also a Trump delegate at the Republican National Convention. In November, the community backed Hillary Clinton with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Turnout is typically low in such municipal contests where voters weigh in on local offices like assessor and county commissioner.