Making history in Philadelphia politics

Rue Landau

Rue Landau made history this week. She becomes the first out LGBTQ person to place top five in a Democratic primary for City Council. If she wins the General Election in November, which is highly expected, she will be sworn in as a City Councilmember next January. Part of what brought her and our community victory is that she and her team created a citywide coalition, which is vital for running for Council At Large. She also put together an impressive campaign staff and raised the funds needed to compete.

The key to all of that is bringing people together. Rue set herself up from the very beginning to be the candidate who will be a unifier in City Council. Her goal was to bring all factions of the Democratic party together. That is what she will be for Council, for the City, and for the LGBTQ community.

Elections are won by bringing people together and going out non-stop to every dinner, fundraiser, and political event. Elections are won by literally spending evenings and weekends knocking on doors making phone calls. It’s a grueling schedule and intense, hard work. That work is 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Her wife Kerry and her son gave their full support to that effort, meaning that their family time together was reduced for months. But when you have a spouse like Rue’s and children who understand and support the work it takes to win elected office, it makes it bearable. In Rue’s case, her family was with her all the way. 

Creating a coalition means working with people that are not always on the same policy page you’re on. Winning an election is not about a purity test; it’s about organization, passion and collaboration. That means working with everyone from progressives to the Democratic City Committee and all those in-between. It means bringing in all those you’ve worked with in the past and the organizations you’ve supported. Then there’s the presentations to each of the 66+ wards in the city, speech by speech.

Rue also had a track record as the most accomplished of almost any other candidate, and she is known for being able to work with people in various government positions, unions, neighborhood organizations and her beloved LGBT community over scores of years. All of that made her the most endorsed candidate for City Council. 

Let me end on a personal note. I left Philadelphia when I was 18 years old, believing I was the only gay man in the city. That is how invisible we were. Now, at 72, a person from our community has been not only elected to the highest level of city government, but with a sizable number of votes. She didn’t just cross the finish line, she blazed through it. She has been embraced by the entire city, in every ward and every neighborhood.

Rue, you made me so proud.