Prior to Super Tuesday, some local openly gay candidates fared far better than others when it came to the local LGBT community's financial support.
A glance at the Illinois State Board of Election's semi-annual campaign finance reports about several openly gay and lesbian candidates revealed that not all candidates had financial backing from the local community. There was a stark contrast of support between openly gay candidates in monies received and spent during the reporting period of July 1 through Dec. 31, 2007, and the days leading up to the Feb. 5 primary election.
According to the semiannual report of campaign contributions and expenditures submitted to the state agency, two openly gay judicial candidates received next to no financial support from the LGBT community during their race.
Thomas Doran, the openly gay Circuit Court judicial candidate for the Montelione vacancy, reported having received about $7,000 in campaign contributions through the end of 2007. That amount included $2,000 from a family member and a $2,000 loan to himself. By Dec. 31, 2007, Doran spent roughly $6,200. In the days leading up to the primary, Doran loaned himself an additional $5,000.
Required filings in the days leading up to the election do not include contributions under $500.
In the three-person race that featured two heavily endorsed candidates—Debra Walker and Thaddeus Wilson—Doran only took home over 19 percent of the vote. Walker won by a large margin, garnering more than 56 percent of votes.
Candidate filings show that Walker reported having received nearly $29,000 in contributions during the semiannual reporting period. Wilson had even more than Walker in contributions.
Openly gay 8th Subcircuit ( Sheehan vacancy ) judicial candidate Aaron Weiss, according to his semiannual report, received over $6,700 in contributions through Dec. 31, 2007, and only spent roughly $360.
In the crowded seven-way contest, Weiss could not muster enough votes against his well-moneyed opponents. Ann Collins Dole, chief assistant corporation counsel of the City of Chicago's Department of Law, came out as the favorite with nearly one-third of the vote. Weiss received fewer than 6 percent of the vote.
Collins Dole, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, reported nearly $21,000 in contributions up through Election Day. However, even Collins Dole's coffers paled next to opponent Judge James Shapiro. By the end of the year, Shapiro had received $161,000 in contributions and spent over $42,000. In the days leading up to the election, Shapiro loaned himself an additional $219,000. ( Collins Dole and Shapiro are both straight. )
However, there were openly gay candidates that went into Election Day well-funded.
Jay Paul Deratany, the openly gay Cook County Board of Review candidate who ran against Democratic Party heavyweight Joe Berrios, had far more in contributions than Doran or Weiss, but not without paying quite a price. Although through the end of 2007, Deratany had received over $182,000 in campaign contributions during the reporting period by aggressively raising money, $50,000 was his own.
Local politicians also helped line Deratany's political coffers. A large portion—$100,000—came from Cook County Assessor James M. Houlihan's committee. Deratany also loaned an additional $200,000 to himself. In the days leading up to the election, Deratany received tens of thousands more in contributions from Houlihan and Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley's committees ( equaling well over $100,000 ) . Deratany threw an additional $125,000 of his own funds into the mix before Election Day.
In the end, Berrios received slightly under 59 percent of the vote to Deratany's 41 percent.
One openly lesbian political candidate received a large amount of financial support from the LGBT community, despite running unopposed. Many members of the LGBT community contributed to Deb Mell's run for the open 40th District state representative seat. Mell ran unopposed because incumbent Rich Bradley stepped aside and ran against State Sen. Iris Martinez in the 20th District.
Mell ran an aggressive fundraising campaign throughout the city, often targeting the LGBT community for support. Between July and the end of 2007, Citizens for Deb Mell had raised over $82,000 and spent over $47,000 of it. Her campaign also received thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions—some from her father, Ald. Dick Mell— for utilities, rent and fundraising purposes. Many local LGBT activists and politicians supported Mell and her campaign, according to records from the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Other openly gay candidates who ran unopposed also received support.
Semiannual filings for Alderman Tom Tunney ( 44th Ward ) , who ran uncontested as ward committeeman, raised over $123,000 the second half of 2007. By the end of the year, his campaign had spent over $73,000.
Openly gay State Rep. Greg Harris received over $38,000 during the second half of last year, and spent roughly $23,000.