HAMMOND | The boxing-glove symbol Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. used in his 2015 primary campaign symbolized a knockout blow Tuesday.
McDermott claimed a landslide victory for the Democratic party's nomination, besting a sitting councilman and vaulting to a near-certain, record-setting fourth term as mayor.
McDermott's win ultimately will leave his challenger, sitting Hammond City Councilman Homero "Chico" Hinojosa Jr., out of elected office, at least for now. Hinojosa gave up a bid for a new term representing the city's 6th District to run against McDermott in the Democratic primary.
Hinojosa conceded the race Tuesday night, congratulating McDermott and acknowledging he took a risk by leaving what appeared to be a safe council seat and challenging a deeply rooted incumbent mayor.
"I didn't like the direction the city was headed in, and that's what I based my decision on," Hinojosa told The Times.
In a race in which McDermott faced a slew of campaign finance complaints from detractors, the incumbent mayor came out on top. He is set to face Republican Humberto Prado, who ran unopposed in Tuesday's GOP primary, in the November general election.
During the campaign, McDermott cited his three terms worth of experience, a portfolio of high-powered Democratic political contacts on the national scene and increased city revenue from the sale of water to Chicago Heights as major marketing points to voters.
On Tuesday night, speaking to a packed house of supporters in his Indianapolis Boulevard campaign headquarters, McDermott's message and mood were a bit lighter.
"We've got a place to party. We've got food. We've got a DJ. We've got four more years," McDermott said during his victory speech, eliciting booming applause from throngs of supporters.
During the campaign, longtime Councilman Hinojosa sought to highlight $100 million in debt Hammond has accumulated as a shadow over the McDermott administration.
In the end, McDermott won the day and is the odds-on favorite to win a record fourth-straight term in November.
But don't tell him that.
As the song, "Some Kind of Wonderful," blared from his campaign party DJ booth, McDermott wasn't ready to declare himself victor in the November general election just yet.
"My focus is now on my November opponent," McDermott said when asked about his first priority following Tuesday's victory.