CHICAGO – In some places, politics is a battle of ideas. In Chicago, it’s a contact sport.
A candidate for the Illinois state legislature said he was attacked by campaign workers for his opponent held him on the ground, smacked him in the head with a beer bottle and popped a staple into his forehead.
Bob Zwolinski said he ended up with a broken nose and a cut that required six stitches, and bruises.
Felony charges were filed against the campaign volunteers, one of whom is 26-year-old Jessica Soto, the daughter of Zwolinski’s opponent, incumbent state Rep. Cynthia Soto.
“You expect these kinds of things out of Trump supporters but not a 16-year sitting representative,” Zwolinski said.
Frank Avila, a spokesman for Soto, said the legislator was not involved in the fight. He claimed that Zwolinski “provoked the attack, and he got his ass handed to him.”
Cynthia Soto found out about the attack from the media, Avila said.
“She is sad about [the situation]. Jessica’s her daughter. She loves her, and she condemns any violence, and there is a trial going on so she will defer to the trial. She is praying for Zwolinski and hopes he heals well and is open to talking with him to heal the situation,” Avila said. “As she understands it from our victims and witnesses, he started the fight.”
Avila is also the attorney representing Soto’s daughter and co-defendant Bradley Fichter, who is also 26.
Police arrested Soto and Fichter on Wednesday, a day after Cynthia Soto soundly defeated Zwolinski 79% to 20%.
Argument over campaign posters
Zwolinski said he confronted a man and woman who were hanging campaign posters for Soto, a fellow Democrat, outside his campaign office on March 6. He said he’d never seen them before and had no idea one of them was Soto’s daughter.
Tensions were high, he said, because his campaign workers were going door to-door and putting up a good fight with limited resources. He said he told the two people to take down the posters.
The man held him down, Zwolinski said, while both campaign volunteers punched him. Then woman hit his head with a beer bottle and popped a staple into his forehead with the staple gun they’d been using to hang the posters, Zwolinski said.
“I’m not going to be fighting because I am running for office,” he told CNN.
Avila confirmed that Cynthia Soto is Jessica Soto’s mother. Avila claims that the daughter and the other campaign worker acted in self-defense.
Felony charges filed
“Even though the mother is a state representative, they’re harming her because she is an elected official and she won,” CNN affiliate WLS quoted Avila as saying. “This is a disgrace. This is a tragedy, and we’ll make sure we get these charges dropped.”
Chicago police said each suspect was charged with one count of aggravated battery/use of a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated battery/great bodily harm and one count of aggravated battery/public place. Fichter also was charged with a count of disorderly conduct/false report of an offense.
All the charges are felonies. The suspects bonded out of jail Friday, Avila said.