A dramatic year in Chicago politics ends in one final dramatic flourish on New Year's Eve. Pro-LGBT Congressman Danny Davis drops out of the race to succeed Mayor Richard Daley and endorses Carol Moseley Braun, the former senator and veteran equality advocate.
Davis said he is endorsing Braun in the name of unity. "I'm proud that I will be here when Carol Moseley Braun becomes the next mayor," Davis said. "I come here tonight...to help prove unity is more than just a concept."
The announcement at Davis' West Loop headquarters came after African-American leaders met privately for days with the candidates in an attempt to unify behind a single contender who could improve the odds of an African-American winning the Feb. 22 election. Davis and Braun both had insisted Thursday that they would keep running for Chicago mayor. Then they met again today, leading to Davis' departure from the contest.
Last week saw the departure of outspoken anti-gay mega-church pastor and Illinois State Sen. James T. Meeks, who has called homosexuality "an evil sickness" and was the only black legislator voting against the recent landmark vote on civil unions.
Davis is a veteran progressive in Chicago politics and scores 100% by the Human Rights Campaign on LGBT issues. Davis opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and supports marriage equality. Davis endorsed and spoke at the National Equality March in October 2009.
In 1992, Braun became the first Black woman elected to the United States Senate. Braun has long been a champion of gay rights, was one of only 14 Senate votes to oppose DOMA in 1996 and also voted against DADT. In 2007, Braun was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.
The mayoral field includes former White House Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, former School Board President Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle. Davis' departure clears the field for Braun to run as the Black consensus candidate. The Chicago Tribune adds the unspoken reality "is that black and white voters are still focused on race more than two decades after the late Harold Washington was elected the city's first African-American mayor."