An early Christmas present ...
Outspoken anti-gay mega-church pastor and Illinois State Sen. James T. Meeks has withdrawn his candidacy for Chicago mayor today, the deadline for candidates to drop out to avoid having their names appear on the Feb. 22 ballot.
In a statement, Meeks urged the remaining Black candidates to follow his lead and rally around a single "unity" candidate.
"Unfortunately, though, our house is divided. I have met with each of the four other African-American candidates and urged them in the strongest terms to consider withdrawing from the race in the interest of unity and for the greater good of our community. ... It is long past time that we build on the tremendous successes of the great Harold Washington and his administration by electing another African-American to become our mayor. But as long as our community remains divided and splintered – to the specific advantage of the front-running, status quo candidates – we will never see things improve. We need to speak with one voice."
Meeks decision comes one day after meeting with fellow Democratic candidates U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun. The meeting was described by the Sun-Times as "a last-ditch effort to unite behind a consensus black candidate for mayor." It was anticipated that Meeks was "likely" to "drop out ... soon."
The statement made no reference to the series of controversies that have plagued Meeks' candidacy from almost the beginning. Last week during a mayoral forum, Meeks said that Asians, Hispanics and women "should not" be considered "minorities" in the city’s affirmative-action contracting programs. The comment created a firestorm. Meeks later retracted the statement.
Meeks’ opposition to the recent landmark vote on civil unions drew harsh criticism from fellow politicians and lgbt activists. Meeks, who has called homosexuality "an evil sickness", was the only black legislator voting against the bill. Meeks also opposed Illinois' LGBT non-discrimination legislation and was the only Black in the General Assembly to vote against that bill, too. Days after voting against civil unions, Meeks greeted diners at the restaurant owned by openly gay Ald. Tom Tunney (44th). The largely gay clientele was not enthused.
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