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Endorsed Republican mayoral contender Herbert Sohn Friday conceded the...

By JACK BEARY

CHICAGO -- Endorsed Republican mayoral contender Herbert Sohn Friday conceded the Feb. 28 primary to write-in challenger Edward Vrdolyak, but declined to personally endorse the former Democratic Party chairman.

Vrdolyak, who jumped parties less than two years ago, was declared the winner Thursday of the GOP primary, based on unofficial returns. Sohn conceded after a spot check of returns Friday that failed to turn up a winning margin for him or a basis on which to contest the election.

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The winner will be certified by the Board of Election Commissioners at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

'Unfortunately I didn't get more votes than my opponent,' said Sohn, a urologist and attorney. 'He won fair and square. That in no way dampens my spirit or reduced the pride I take in the campaign we ran.'

In a six-day war with local Republican leaders and Sohn, the party's endorsed candidate, Vrdolyak -- written off four months ago after a crushing defeat for county office -- politically rose from the dead Tuesday.

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Making use of the unlikely vehicle of a write-in campaign, during which he stumped exclusively in his vote-rich 10th Ward, Vrdolyak amassed 11,621 votes to Sohn's 10,478. Nearly 5,000 of Vrdolyak's votes came from the 10th Ward.

The winning margin of 1,143 left a difference between Vrdolyak and Sohn of 5.18 percent, putting Sohn just out of reach of the legal limit of a 5 percent spread needed for a discovery recount.

Vrdolyak, who would be the first write-in candidate in history to win a major party's nomination for mayor upon certification by the election board, said he is planning to mount a citywide GOP campaign against Democrat Richard M. Daley and Harold Washington Party candidate Timothy Evans, who claims to be the sole heir to the political legacy of Washington, the city's first black mayor.

Vrdolyak vowed he would make a multi-racial appeal for votes.

'I had over 300 phone calls yesterday,' Vrdolyak said. 'Over half the people who called were blacks who wanted to help in our campaign. The phones now will start ringing even more.'

The general election, scheduled for April 4, was ordered to fill the remaining two years of the last term of Washington, who died in November 1987.

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In capturing the Democratic nomination, Daley defeated the acting mayor, Eugene Sawyer, to become the first white politician to unseat a presiding black mayor in a major U.S. city.

In another development Friday, Evans admitted he was late in paying $4,115 in interest on back property taxes.

The last installment of back taxes, $3,800, was delivered to the Cook County Assessor's office Jan. 24, he said.

Evans blamed a former tenant in a South Side building he owns for causing late payments.

'There's no question but that the tenant didn't pay (rent) and declared bankruptcy and we had to pay for him,' Evans said.

Evans also confessed to making late payments on his federal income taxes.

'Sometimes I have paid late, yes, but I have paid,' Evans said, in a taping of WBBM-TV's 'Newsmakers' program. 'If I paid late, I paid penalties and interest for being late.'

Vrdolyak also had property tax troubles in 1974. Vrdolyak, then a candidate for county assessor, had been delinquent in paying property taxes on a Southeast Side building he owned.

And Washington served 30 days in jail for failure to file his federal tax returns. The conviction came more than a decade before Washington won the mayorality in 1983.

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