Reporting by TJ Chernick and Brynn Cassie West
In what was deemed the most closely-watched 2012 Illinois primary race among those in the Chicago LGBT community, incumbent Rep. Kelly Cassidy prevailed over challenger and longtime community activist Paula Basta for the 14th District state representative seat.
“I’m thrilled [now that it’s over]!” said Cassidy at her election night party at St. Andrew’s Inn in Edgewater. “I’m just excited to get back to doing what I love, representing the great state of Illinois. I love being a legislator and I’m so glad I have another two years to do it.”
By late Tuesday night, Cassidy had won by a massive margin — 62 percent to 37 percent — with 96 percent of precincts reporting. Votes totalled 5,980 and 3,396 for Cassidy and Basta, respectively.
The two out lesbian candidates campaigning for the seat set an unprecedented race, which started following Cassidy’s appointment to the seat last April — after it was vacated by Harry Osterman when he was elected as the city’s 48th Ward alderman.
Cassidy claimed victory just after 8:30 p.m. and was joined at her party by her partner, Kelly Quinn, three sons and various local politicians and activists, including Illinois Senator Heather Steans (D – Chicago) of the 7th District and LGBT political advocate Michael Bauer.
“It’s been a long road,” Quinn said. “We’ve been together 10 years … I know she’s excited to get back to Springfield and start doing what she loves to do.”
Not even two hours after polls closed, challenger Paula Basta had conceded to Cassidy, taking the stage at The Call in Andersonville to address her supporters.
“This is not the end this is just the beginning,” Basta said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Basta went on to thank her partner, Terri Worman, to an eruption of applause from those gathered.
“It’s been an honor and the people here [the district] are just fantastic,” she said. “And I am glad their voice was heard.”
In addition, Basta told Chicago Phoenix that she has no immediate intentions for future political campaigns, including a run for 48th Ward alderman. Instead, she had a different type of running to do.
“I’m going to run to my mother’s 81st and beyond that I don’t know,” she said. “If you knew my mother you’d know how much running that is!” she added, laughing, and also said that there is still a lot of advocacy work to be done on behalf of seniors.
The overall message from her supporters was that they will “continue on,” said one supporter, as Basta hugged supporters before leaving.
As her victory party continued, Cassidy looked forward to the General Election.
“Let’s plan for a really great November,” she said.