CHICAGO (CBS) —The race for Chicago’s next mayor has turned so personal, what seemed to be a compliment is now being questioned as criticism.

As CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley reports, it all revolves around Lori Lightfoot’s sexual identity.

READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Lead Detective In Investigation Explains On Witness Stand How Smollett Went From Victim To Suspect

When Illinois State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) endorsed Lori Lightfoot for mayor of Chicago, it was an openly gay elected official endorsing an openly gay candidate. Cassidy, noting that while Toni Preckwinkle has been an ally for the gay community, said it matters that Lightfoot herself is a lesbian.

“Ultimately, allies only get you so far,” Cassidy said. “And at the end of the day, representation matters.”

Meantime, Lightfoot questioned whether Preckwinkle was encouraging homophobia with this reply at Thursday’s NBC 5 debate. When asked what she admired about Lightfoot, Preckwinkle said “that she’s open and honest about her LGBTQ orientation.”

“Coming in the context of a clear strategy to be as negative against me as possible, I can only hope she wasn’t blowing some type of dog whistle,” Lightfoot said.

Meaning, a quiet reminder to conservative voters who may not realize Lightfoot is gay.

READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance For Rain Wednesday Morning, Warmer During Day

“That’s ridiculous. I’ve always been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community. I have members of that community on my staff, and my campaign, and my government office,” responded Preckwinkle.

Or maybe Preckwinkle wanted to remind Willie Wilson’s conservative black voters about Lightfoot’s identity, one day before Wilson endorsed Lightfoot. Again, Preckwinkle said no.

“No, it had nothing to do with Willie Wilson, absolutely nothing,” Preckwinkle said.

Lightfoot insisted, in the end, Preckwinkle’s intent doesn’t matter.

“In the way in which she has conducted herself, literally from election night, those kinds of words are going to have an impact,” said Lightfoot.

Her endorsement by Kelly Cassidy was also a rallying cry for LGBTQ voters to flock to the polls for Lightfoot. The unknown question: How many conservative voters may be motivated to vote against Lightfoot, for the very same reason?

MORE NEWS: View Live Radar