During a Thursday night debate that turned bitter fast, both candidates were asked what they admired most about their opponent. […]
Preckwinkle said she admired how open Lightfoot is about her sexuality. If she wins the April 2 runoff, Lightfoot would become Chicago’s first openly gay mayor.
Full Preckwinkle quote…
“That she’s open and honest about her LGBTQ orientation. You know, I think it’s really important in this country that we be respectful of differences and that we understand that all of us matter and that there is dignity in each and every one of us. And there has been so much discrimination and prejudice and homophobia in our country, it’s very important that particularly prominent people declare their sexual orientation and do it with pride.”
* Lightfoot more than just implied that the comment was a “dog whistle”…
Lightfoot stopped short of characterizing Preckwinkle’s intentions. “I’m saying that if there was (a dog whistle), it would be disappointing,” she said. “But the words are the words. Whether — I can’t go into her mind and understand her intent.”
Asking the candidates what they admire about their opponent has become a standard question in most debates, Lightfoot noted.
“She’s got a lot of sophisticated people around her. It’s hard to imagine … the question was coming, you knew it was coming. We both did,” Lightfoot said. “And she chose to say what she said.”
* Usually, in situations like this, I tend to look toward the people who do this for a living instead of the candidates…
“Trying to peer into Preckwinkle’s soul to determine the intent of her remarks is impossible,” Brian Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois, which has endorsed Lightfoot, told POLITICO. He acknowledged Preckwinkle “has been an ally and champion” of the LGBTQ community. “But instead of running a campaign with an inspiring vision of her leadership for our city, Preckwinkle has built a campaign whose sole purpose seems to be to mislead voters about Lightfoot and attack her at every step of the way.”
Even a seemingly positive statement about Lightfoot’s identity is met with “skepticism and mistrust,” he added.
Preckwinkle may or may not have intended to blow a dog whistle. The problem here is that she’s said or done so many unnecessarily ham-handed things that people are naturally going to assume the worst intentions.
If you deliberately construct an image of being an arrogant bully, don’t act all shocked when people think you are one. A seemingly liberal compliment can easily be interpreted as a grotesquely illiberal campaign tactic.
Preckwinkle walked right into that one.
* Laura Washington: How Willie Wilson changed his mind on LGBTQ people and endorsed Lori Lightfoot