Bob Zwolinski tweeted a gruesome picture of his face earlier this month. He was bloodied and bruised — with a staple visible on his forehead.
“Politics is a contact sport,” wrote Zwolinski, who was running for a state House seat in Illinois. “Apparently that’s literally the case.”
Zwolinski told The Post on Friday that he was attacked when a verbal confrontation outside his campaign offices escalated to violence. The left side of his face was “swollen like a balloon,” he said, and he needed stitches and a tetanus shot after the beating, he said.
Plus, medics had to take that staple out of his head.
“Which was a first for the ER,” Zwolinski said.
The incumbent who Zwolinski was challenging in the Democratic primary, state Rep. Cynthia Soto, would go on to win the race. But her daughter, Jessica Soto, has since been charged in connection with the March 6 attack.
“I mean, my mouth just dropped,” Zwolinski said, describing the moment he learned of the charges. “I was like, ‘No, What?’ … Just, how awful.”
Jessica Soto, 26, faces three felony counts of aggravated battery, according to the Chicago Police Department. Bradley Fichter, 26, is also facing aggravated battery charges and was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false report.
An attorney for Soto and Fichter disputed the charges, calling his clients the victims in the affair.
On the evening of March 6, Soto and Fichter were “involved in a verbal altercation” that escalated, according to a Chicago Police news release, which did not name the victim. Soto and Ficther beat the victim and “struck him in the head with a bottle and metal object.”
Zwolinski wrote on Facebook that the encounter began when he noticed two people placing Soto signs outside his campaign building. He told The Post that he asked he the man and woman to stop, and the confrontation eventually blew up.
“And then a melee ensued,” he said.
Zwolinski said he was pushed, kicked and popped on the nose with a bottle during the altercation.
Recounting the incident on Facebook, Zwolinski wrote that the female attacker used the staple gun. He told The Post that he remembered the woman screaming about Soto, saying that it was her territory, not his.
“That’s specific; I will never forget that,” he said.
Frank Avila, the attorney for Soto and Fichter, presented a different version of the attack, telling The Post that Jessica Soto wasn’t involved in the physical altercation, and that Fichter was acting in self-defense.
“I think this is just taking politics to the next level,” said Avila, who called Zwolinski’s behavior “extremely bizarre” and characterized the incident as a media stunt.
Cynthia Soto did not immediately return an email seeking comment or a telephone message left at her district office.
“It’s a shame we have to do this in court,” Avila said. “There shouldn’t even be charges.”
When asked about Avila’s comments, Zwolinski said the attorney has said “the most outlandish things I’ve ever heard in my life.”
A picture of Zwolinski’s face after the attack is below, but fair warning, it is somewhat graphic.
Politics is a contact sport. Apparently that's literally the case. pic.twitter.com/wIlFIP366W
— Robert Zwolinski (@BobZ_Chicago4th) March 7, 2016