Lightfoot, Preckwinkle meet with Wilson seeking his endorsement

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle sought an influential endorsement Friday from one of their former rivals.

Dr. Willie Wilson, who carried a majority of the African American precincts on the South and West Sides on Tuesday, met with both candidates Friday. Wilson's endorsement could be important, as a sticking point for Lightfoot with that particular voting bloc is that she's openly gay.

Preckwinkle had the first meeting with Wilson but refused to give any particular weight to his endorsement.

"I'm looking for the support of as many of the good people who ran as possible but mostly I'm going to go after their voters," she said.

Lightfoot initially canceled her meeting with Wilson after seeing TV cameras outside but eventually did meet with him.

Wilson, whose support in those precincts was largely based on the church vote, will meet with dozens of pastors in the days ahead seeking input on who he should endorse. He also sought feedback on his Facebook page.

"I'm gonna do this thing the right way," he said. "I'm not just outright gonna make it just myself."

Lightfoot has said she's proud to be the first openly gay mayoral candidate, but it presents a conflict for many of the city's black churches.

"A lot of pastors are homophobic and anti-gay and other pastors who would say 'As long as she can do the job, we don't care what she does when she gets home,'" said Bishop Larry Trotter, of the Sweet Holy Spirit Church. "Of course our community and pastors are more familiar with Toni Preckwinkle, so this is going to be a very tedious race."

Wilson says Lightfoot's sexuality is not his main concern.

"I'm talking about things like jobs and contracts, the social-economic issues and that's what we have to focus on in this case here," he said.

Lightfoot also released her first self-promoting commercial Friday, talking about the need for change. Preckwinkle launched her own attack ad blasting Lightfoot as a wealthy, corporate lawyer.
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