By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com December 31 2010 10:05 PM ET
Former U.S. senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, who has a record of supporting LGBT rights, has emerged as the consensus black candidate in the Chicago mayoral race.
U.S. representative Danny Davis, another gay-friendly black mayoral hopeful, announced at a press conference Friday evening that he was dropping out of the race, and he endorsed Braun in the name of unity, the Chicago Tribune reports. A third high-profile black candidate, state senator and Baptist minister James Meeks, dropped out last week. Meeks has a record of antigay statements and votes, including a vote against the civil unions bill passed by the Illinois legislature a month ago.
In 1992, Braun became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She was the first senator to appoint an LGBT liaison, and while in the Senate she opposed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Defense of Marriage Act. In 2007 she was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.
Less well-known black candidates remaining in the race are activist Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls, described by the Tribune as a “perennial candidate.” The search for a consensus black candidate reflects the unspoken reality that “black and white voters are still focused on race more than two decades after the late Harold Washington was elected the city's first African-American mayor,” the newspaper reports.
Along with Braun, the major candidates seeking to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is retiring, are former congressman and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago Board of Education president Gery Chico, and city clerk Miguel del Valle. The mayoral election — officially nonpartisan in heavily Democratic Chicago — will be February 22, with a runoff April 5 if no candidate wins a majority of the vote.