5th District candidates in home stretch, vote on Tuesday

Sun. March 1, 2009 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

Chicago, IL - The competitive and crowded 5th District congressional race to replace Rahm Emanuel hit a fevered pitch over the weekend in a final push before the special primary on Tuesday, March 3rd.

The race to fill Emanuel's Senate seat is crowded, with 12 Democrats, 6 Republicans and 5 Green Party candidates. Emanuel resigned after six years in the Senate to become President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff.

The 5th district, which leans heavily Democratic, covers most of Chicago's North Side and comprises the majority of the city's LGBT voters. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) will be going head-to-head for the gay vote with Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

Feigenholtz is considered the front-runner for the LGBT vote and has received endorsements from Equality Illinois Political Director Rick Garcia and Art Johnston, a popular co-founder of the gay rights group.

The Service Employees International Union and UNITE have also endorsed Feigenholtz citing her advocacy on health care and worker's rights. Union members, including the group's Illinois president, Tom Balanoff, campaigned for Feigenholtz on Saturday.

The candidates were scattered across the North and Northwest sides of Chicago campaigning heavily on Saturday.

Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley reportedly spent his day going door-to-door, meeting with Latino voters in Melrose Park, visiting seniors and shaking hands at Waveland Bowl on Western Avenue.

Quigley has received endorsement from the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune. In the Sun-Times editorial, the paper described the ballot as "filled with impressive and thoughtful candidates" but felt that Quigley "stood above the rest."

The Sun-Times also singled out Feigenholtz, Tom Geoghegan, and Charlie Wheelan as "impressive and thoughtful" candidates. Feigenholtz was called "a passionate expert in health care."

State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) is also widely considered a frontrunner in the race.

Candidates on Gay Marriage

During a January 31st candidate forum, many of the Democratic candidates expressed similar views on issues like health care and gay marriage.

"I've been a steadfast and 100% supporter to my friends in the GLBT community. I will continue to do so whether it's marriage equality or ENDA, my support has been unwavering and I always will be unwavering," Fritchey said in response to a question about same-sex marriage during the forum.

Quigley responded, "I support gay marriage." O'Connor did not appear and Feigenholtz did not respond to the question during her remarks.

Feigenholtz was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2001 as a "Friend of the Community."

Vote on Tuesday, March 3

The special primary in the 5th congressional district is Tuesday, March 3. Then the special election will be held on April 7. The winner there moves to Congress.