Welcome to the Windy City Times 2006 General Election Guide. Windy City Times does not endorse candidates. Rather, we cover and report on the views and endorsements of key GLBT and progressive organizations on a range of issues from gay rights to AIDS to abortion. You can take this Election Guide into the polls with you Tuesday, Nov. 7.
By Andrew Davis AND AMY WOOTEN
Considering that the GLBT community spans the philosophical and political spectrum, it should follow that Republicans and Democrats have gay supporters. Below, activists and supporters weigh in on important races taking place around the state.
David Valkema, Log Cabin Republicans-Chicago: 'As you can probably understand, I am slanted on my views of who we will endorse in the upcoming general election. That being said, let me first start out by explaining why I am a proud Republican and represent a LGBT Republican organization.
'The Log Cabin Republicans of Chicago believe in the following: limited government, strong national defense, lower taxes, personal responsibility and free markets—they are all hallmarks of the Republican Party.
'We want be true to our conservative principles while working to make the GOP more inclusive and tolerant.
'We believe that change in America will happen through the current two-party system of government. Therefore we will lead the fight to defeat the radical right and transform the GOP from within, allowing gay and lesbian Americans to achieve full equality.
'We envision the day when ALL Americans will be able to benefit from the equality, human rights and liberty that our Constitution guarantees to every citizen. Until then, we will fight with noble purpose and valiant effort within our own party for liberty, justice and equality for all!
'Now following that up, we are supporting Judy Baar Topinka for governor for a few different reasons—one of which is that she actually is a woman of her word. Secondly, her first act as State Treasurer banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in her office, and she has hired openly gay employees at every level of her administration.
' [ Topinka ] voted to keep AIDS patient's test results confidential and to create the Ryan White pediatric and adult AIDS fund to give grants to public and private agencies. She worked with the LGBT community to provide $10 million in critical funding to the Center on Halsted and the Children's Place Day Care Center for HIV infected children. She is a woman of common sense, straight talk and hard work!
'We are supporting her Illinois State republican ballot partners, including Joe Birkett ( Lt. Governor ) , Stu Umholtz ( Attorney General ) , Dan Rutherford ( Sec. of State ) , Carole Pankau ( Comptroller ) and Christine Radogno ( Treasurer ) because this may be a pivitol point in Illinois history where we can actually elect an administration that is truly open to change for the better in Springfield and across Illinois for the LGBT community. They will work with the downstate and suburban GOP party to make this happen. Beside this obvious reason, they vow to restore public trust in Illinois politics by fighting public corruption, something our current leadership told us they would do, however ending up being the most scandal-filled administration in Illinois politics so far.
'We are supporting Tony Peraica for Cook County Board President because he has also vowed to bring back integrity to that office so long held by a family of corruption. Tony has promised to be there for the LGBT community. He has been a man of his word and now understands our 'issues,' both socially and fiscally. We must trust that his knowledge of the Cook County system and desire to clean it up will far outweigh is ignorance of our issues in the past.'
A full list of endorsements can be found at www.logcabinchicago.com .
Rick Ingram, Illinois Stonewall Democrats: 'We have to decided to actively support Rod Blagojevich, Tammy Duckworth and Dan Seals. We decided upon those three because of limited financial resources, and our members selected the governor's, Duckworth's and Seal's races.
'With respect to the governor, we staffed two nights of telephone banks. With Duckworth, we had two nights of banking and scheduled two days of canvassing efforts, and with Seals we've sent out information regarding events.
'Regarding the governor's race, let's face it: [ he has ] been there for us on a whole variety of issues for the GLBT community, [ such as ] appointing openly gay individuals to very high cabinet positions [ and ] the human-rights bill. To me, what I hope people will understand is that even though Judy Baar Topinka is not a typical Republican on our issues, she's still a typical Republican on the other issues. If she becomes governor, she'll try to get more Republicans elected to the state legislature.
'I believe that Judy was the chairman of the Bush campaign the last go-round. Is that the type of person you want as governor—someone who'll be out helping those who are not supportive of our issues? To me, the answer is a very clear 'no.''
Rick Garcia, Equality Illinois: 'Even though [ Equality Illinois ] endorsed Rod Blagojevich, what I'm finding is that not only does Judy Baar Topinka have a lot of support in the gay community, but so does [ Green Party candidate ] Rich Whitney, which surprises me. I think that the governor's going to win; he has more money and I think he'll get a lot of gay votes—but I think that Judy is going to get a number of them as well. There are a number of Republican gay voters Downstate, and now they have the option of voting for someone who is not horrific.
'Rod and Judy are pretty similar on the issues, but the political action committee endorsed Rod solely because of the domestic-partnership issue. Rod said that he supports domestic-partnership benefits for gay employees of the state, and he made it happen. Judy says that she supports it, and has had the opportunity—but she hasn't done it yet. We must admire her for her fiscal responsibility, but it shouldn't be done on our backs.
'The only problem we have with the governor is his lack of support on equal marriage rights. However, he's done everything else we've asked him to do. Rod and Judy both worked hard on the gay-rights bill, which he signed. For our community, it's going to be a very tight race. And I keep running into people who plan to vote for the Green Party—and I tell them that 'That's great, because you can thank the Green Party for the election of George Bush the last time around.' One of the major issues we look at is viability: Can [ the candidate ] win?
'The Cook County Board President race looks like it's up in the air, even though Cook County is pathologically Democratic. This will be one of the tightest races we've ever seen. The way Todd Stroger was placed in that seat offends independents, liberal Democrats and [ others ] . Also, he does not have fire in his belly. Todd will probably win, but I think he's going to squeak through. [ Tony ] Peraica has been trying to moderate himself—but, frankly, he's done that too late in the game for most of us. In addition, many of us are concerned that he has people from [ Jim ] Oberweis' and Alan Keyes' campaigns on his staff. However, he has affirmed that he will not stop abortions at Cook County Hospital, that no one should be a victim of sexual orientation discrimination and that he won't tamper with domestic-partnership legislation.
'What I find is that there are die-hard Democrats who don't plan to vote for Stroger; I've talked with someone who's voted and he wrote someone in. It will be an extremely interesting race to watch. What's going to be seen is what's left of the Democratic machine in Cook County.
'One good thing about Todd Stroger is that he's always mentioning gay rights. He's using his opponent's anti-gay position as a tool; that doesn't happen too often, especially with someone who's running county-wide.
'What's interesting is that we have so many Democrats doing well in traditionally Republican districts. Part of it has to do with the demographics ( Republican districts aren't so Republican anymore ) ; part of it [ involves ] distaste for President Bush, his policies in Iraq and gay-baiting; and there's the Foley fallout. What [ the Foley situation ] might do is disgust some Republicans so much that they won't vote. And hard-core Republicans are not going to vote in any race because there's a moderate Republican running for governor and because there's the whole lavender mafia in Washington.
'The Tammy Duckworth-Peter Roskam race is very intriguing. Roskam is far right-wing and rabidly anti-gay; Tammy is a pro-gay and pro-choice Democrat. However, she's running in a heavily Republican district; the fact that she's doing as well as she is says a whole lot, and the fact that she could win says even more.'
Michael Bauer: 'First of all, I think that the top priority is taking back one or both houses of the U.S. Congress. For the GLBT community, I believe it's critical because we've seen a slew of anti-gay legislations and regulations coming through this Congress and this administration. It's time to at least stop the bleeding. The fact that we now have HIV prevention funds linked to abstinence-only programs is criminal. The changes to the Ryan White funding that are being pushed by the administration are going to tremendously hurt the community. I'm not even talking about our inability to get any part of a legislative agenda passed, whether we're talking about hate-crime legislation, domestic-partnership legislation for federal employees, etc. So I think the priority is taking back one house or the other. In the House, my priority is Melissa Bean, and I'm serving as a finance chair right now. Clearly, a year ago, we thought she was going to be the No. 1 target for the Republicans to take that seat. She's been able to raise a tremendous amount of money, campaign vigorously and … I don't think anyone thinks she's as vulnerable as she was a year ago. Obviously, part of that is [ Democrats ] taking 15 seats so Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker [ of the U.S. House ] . Our community would be in a very different position with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.
'In the Senate, certainly the Mark Foley debacle has made it somewhat easier to possibly take back the U.S. Senate. In Senate races in places like Ohio, Tennessee and Montana, the Mark Foley situation may have depressed the vote, thus making it easier to take back [ that house ] . Obviously, if the Democrats take control of the Senate, a lot of things happen. One, it may be very possible that Bush gets another Supreme Court nomination in the next two years. Justice [ John Paul ] Stevens is 85, and if we have majority, suddenly we either get a very different Supreme Court nomination or the nomination won't go through. In addition, many of these horrible judicial nominations that Bush is making for the federal bench … won't go through the Senate judiciary committee if the Republicans don't have control. Plus, we get back the setting to change the direction of this country.
'Then we move on to the statewide races. Obviously, we have a great many incumbent Democrats statewide who are very supportive of our community, from the governor on down. I think they are looking in pretty good shape. The leadership of the Illinois Senate and the leadership of the Illinois House are obviously very supportive of our community, and I don't expect the leadership to change in any way. There are several Senate and House races with Democratic candidates who may actually be very supportive of our community and just add to the majority, like Dan Kotowski [ 33rd District ] running in the northwest suburbs. It just adds to what we already have.
'On the county level, many of us have a disdain for the process in which Todd Stroger got elected as a Democratic nominee. Ultimately this is an election, which is a choice. The choice is either Todd Stroger or, frankly, a Tony Peraica, who holds right-wing ideological views. I know there are many of us in the community who are not happy with the process and who were happy with Forrest Claypool in the primaries, but the choice is ultimately between Todd Stroger and Peraica. I think it's important for us to have Todd Stroger win the election.'
WCT: Is there any fear, since so many people in predominately gay wards voted for Claypool because they wanted to get away from corruption, that they will actually vote for Peraica?
MB: 'Yes. There's a great deal of worry right now that the lakefront wards and the North Side, the Northwest Side and the North Suburbs may go heavily for Peraica. However, it's not as important what people are thinking today as what they do on Nov. 7. Obviously, Ald. Stroger has to do a great deal of outreach into our community and into other communities along the lakefront if he hopes to take those wards.'
WCT: And if people focus on just the issues alone, the choice will be easier for them?
MB: 'I totally agree. I think you'll see [ Stroger ] at other [ GLBT community ] events between now and Nov. 7, making himself more visible in our community and those of us along the lakefront.
'There's one other election issue I want to talk about, and that's the ballot initiative in Wisconsin. I think this is very, very important, because with every single ballot initiative to date on the issue of same-sex marriage, our community has lost. We have not won one yet. The folks in Wisconsin seem to me to be extremely well organized. Their polling is looking fairly positive. I'm cautiously optimistic. The Democratic leadership in Wisconsin has all come out against the referendum. They recognize this referendum for what it is—not just an attack on our community, but also an entire attack on the Democratic ticket. I think it's very important for our community to understand that we should be supporting the efforts of folks involved in Fair Wisconsin to beat this referendum and finally change the tide and show that we can win this referendum. … It's important for us to understand that if we're able to help our friends in Wisconsin to beat back this referendum, it also decreases the chances that we'll see one in Illinois. It's a national race and a national campaign right now.'