Dick Mell in unexpectedly tight fight in 33rd Ward primary

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Long-time Chicago alderman and political powerbroker Dick Mell is in an unexpected tight fight in the primary. There is still no declared winner in the race for 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeman.

It's been four decades since Chicago's 33rd Ward had a Democratic Committeeman not named Richard Mell, but that may be about to change. In what could be a huge upset for the once powerful alderman, Mell is currently 143 votes short of his opponent, attorney Aaron Goldstein, with two precincts still outstanding.

"We went up against someone who's been committeeman for the last 40 years. Arguably the most successful politician in the state so where we are at. The fact we are winning right now is tremendous," Goldstein said.

The race is too close to call. And while votes from Tuesday's primary are still being counted at Chicago's Board of Elections Warehouse, the 33rd Ward's votes are not among them.

"The cartridge that holds the votes in the touchscreen machines did not get sent to the board of elections. It may still be in the machine," said Laura Chamberlain, of Who's Counting Chicago?

Ironically, Goldstein is one of the attorneys who accompanied Mell's son-in-law, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, when he reported to prison four years ago. While Mell resigned from the Chicago City Council in 2013, he's retained a lot of behind the scenes power in the 33rd Ward, where his daughter, Deb Mell, is now alderman.

"There's still a 50/50 divide but it says that people are ready for change," Goldstein said.

Even once the precincts' outstanding votes are tallied, it may still be a while before we know the final results. There are approximately 600 absentee ballots in the 33rd Ward and those will not be counted for another two weeks.

Dick Mell's office told ABC7 he won't comment until the results become final.
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