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Big Gay Presence in Illinois Primary


Tuesday's Illinois primary election boasted more than a dozen openly gay candidates -- a record -- and saw wins for several.

In a race with two gay candidates, state representative Deb Mell (pictured), who in 2008 became the first out lesbian elected to the Illinois legislature, easily beat Joe Laiacona, a college instructor who has written a sex column under the name Jack Rinella, in the Democratic primary for the 40th district on Chicago's northwest side. Mell received 66% of the vote, Laiacona 34%, according to the Chicago Tribune. So far, Mell has no opposition in the November general election in the heavily Democratic district.

"I really love my area," Mell told Chicago gay paper Windy City Times, "and I'm just really honored that they like the job I do -- but there's still a lot of work to do, and I'm just going to continue."

Gay state representative Greg Harris was unopposed in the Democratic primary in the 13th district on the north side of Chicago, and he is unlikely to have any opposition as he seeks a third term in November.

In other Chicago races, gay candidate Ed Mullen finished third in his bid for the Democratic nomination for 11th district state representative, with Ann M. Williams coming in first in the race for the open seat. Two other gay candidates lost to incumbents in Chicago-area Democratic primaries -- David Schroeder to Ken Dunkin in the fifth state house district and Jim Madigan to Ann Steans in the seventh state senate district.

Outside Chicago, gay man Kent DeLay was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for state representative from the 99th district, which includes much of Springfield, the state capital. In the general election, he will face Republican Raymond Poe, who has represented the district since 1995.

Jacob Meister, a gay Chicago attorney, withdrew from the race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination a few days before the election. He gave his support to state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who won the Democratic nomination and will run against Mark Kirk, currently a congressman from Chicago's northern suburbs, in November. One of Kirk's opponents in the Republican primary asserted that Kirk, a moderate, is gay, something Kirk denied. The Kirk-Giannoulias race will be "a battle with national implications," the Tribune predicted, as Republicans think they have a chance to capture the seat, once held by President Obama. (Roland Burris, appointed to serve the remainder of Obama's term after he became president, is not running.)

In judicial races, four gay candidates lost, but one, John Dalton, won his Democratic primary in Kane County, a suburban area west of Chicago. In November he will face Republican David Akemann. There were also gay candidates involved in several other local races in the state; click here for full coverage.

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