Wednesday, April 13, 2011

LGBT leaders helped fuel Rahm's win

Chicago’s LGBT leadership went all out for Rahm Emanuel.The LGBT establishment players and their cash helped fuel Rahm Emanuel’s Feb. 22 victory. And their vote surely spurred the election of James Cappleman in last week’s 46th Ward runoff election, adding a second openly gay alderman to the Chicago City Council. In the 44th, 46th and 48th wards, Emanuel racked up about 74 percent, 70 percent and 68 percent of the vote respectively.

Those three North lakefront areas are home to most of the city’s LGBT voters. During the heated mayoral campaign, the four leading aspirants ardently wooed the city’s LGBT leadership, lusting for its progressive credentials and money muscle. Emanuel prevailed big-time, winning the vast majority of heavy-hitting LGBT leaders across the spectrum of politics, business, government, arts and culture.

Emanuel also won support from virtually every LGBT political and activist group, from the national Human Rights Campaign to the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee.Critics argue that the rush to Rahm is sacrificing justice for access. Yet Emanuel won, in part, because there was “not a truly galvanizing alternative” in the mayoral race, said Tracy Baim, publisher and executive editor of the Windy City Times, the city’s leading LGBT newspaper.

Emanuel appeals to an LGBT electorate that has grown “more sophisticated,” said Baim, who has been covering her community since 1984. Those voters were looking “beyond their base issues,” she added. They came to a pragmatic conclusion: Emanuel will be “a pit bull for Chicago.” They think “he can get the job done. He’s good for our city. He’s not perfect, but he’s good.”

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