With the primary election Feb. 26, the race is definitely heating up to succeed embattled former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.
Tensions increased when one candidate, Toi Hutchinson, dropped out Feb. 17 and threw her support behind Robin Kelly. (Patrick Brutus has also withdrawn, and is backing Kelly.) In addition, New York City Mayor (and gun-control advocate) Michael Bloomberg has funded a super PAC that backs Kelly and attacks another Democratic candidate, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, for the latter's past support from the National Rifle Association.
Here's a look at some of the candidates:
Background: Halvorson is the former representative for the 11th Congressional District of Illinois (2009-11). Prior to her election to Congress, Debbie served 12 years in the Illinois State Senate, and made history as the first woman to serve as Democratic Majority Leader.
Windy City Times questionnaire score: 18/19
Record on LGBT rights: Halvorson is a marriage-equality supporter, and said she was an early supporter for civil unions when those were proposed. Her Human Rights Campaign Congressional scorecard rating was 78 (out of 100), saying she did not support the organization's position regarding the Uniting American Families Act and the Early Treatment for HIV Act.
Background: Kelly, who was appointed chief administrative officer for Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle in 2011, is also a former state representative who served within the 2nd District. She is also the first African-American woman to serve as chief of staff for a constitutional officer in Illinois (Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias).
Windy City Times questionnaire score: Did not answer
Record on LGBT rights: She reached out to the LGBT community during her unsuccessful run for state treasurer in 2010, earning the support of such individuals as openly gay state Rep. Greg Harris. In Windy City Times' 2010 questionnaire, Kelly expressed her support of same-sex marriage and said that discrimination is the most pressing issue for LGBT people.
Background: A lifelong resident of the 2nd Congressional District, Beale began representing Chicago's 9th Ward as alderman in 1999 and Democratic ward committeeman in 2000. He volunteers his time as a baseball coach, and is a longtime member of the NAACP and Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, among other groups.
Windy City Times questionnaire score: 15/19
Record on LGBT rights: Beale also favors marriage equality, but admits he "has a lot to learn" about LGBT issues. He submitted a position paper to Windy City Times in which he said, among other things, he would vote to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and that he's committed to continued HIV/AIDS funding.
Larry D. Pickens
Background: Pickens is not only an attorney but was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church in 1987. He's led delegations to such places as Cuba and the Vatican.
Windy City Times questionnaire score: 18/19
Record on LGBT rights: Pickens stated that he has a policy banning sexual-orientation discrimination in his church. He also backs same-sex marriage. In 1998, he defended Rev. Gregory Dell, former pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church, in a hearing in which he was tried for performing a same-sex union in his church.
Background: Washington is the president and CEO of The Washington Group, a Chicago-based management consulting firm. Among other things, the former nurse has been vice president of Advocate Health Care as well as vice president and COO of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center.
Windy City Times questionnaire score: Did not respond
Record on LGBT rights: It's unclear what Washington's stances are regarding LGBT issues. However, a Planned Parenthood questionnaire is on her website, and she expressed her support of codifying Roe v. Wade into law, among other things.
Background: The controversial Reynolds is a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois. In the 1990s, he was convicted on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography; he was subsequently convicted for bank fraud and lying to SEC investigators. (President Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2001.) Reynolds is running on a campaign of redemption.
Windy City Times questionnaire score: Could not reach
Record on LGBT rights: His stances on LGBT issues are unclear.