While we can debate the importance and relevance of newspaper endorsements in an age when anyone with a computer has the ability to make their voice heard across the Internet (often in a manner as effective or more than traditional print media, a la Matt Drudge), we still pay some measure of attention to the print media endorsements, at least on a local level. That's why we were interested to see that in three key races for Lake County, the Tribune and the Daily Herald wound up on the exact opposite sides of their endorsements for State Senate.
In the 29th District (an open seat to replace retiring State Senator Susan Garrett), the Tribune picked Dr. Arie Friedman over Julie Morrison, who was endorsed by the Herald. The Herald noted Friedman's "effort this year to move himself more toward the center" -- read: Friedman is too conservative for us, even though he's pro-choice, a doctor and a veteran). In the 30th, the Tribune smacked down incumbent Democrat Terry Link in favor of Republican Don Castella. The Herald had little good to say about Link, but felt Castella was too scary on social issues (read: Castella is opposed to gay marriage) to win their endorsement, and so went with Link anyway. And in the 31st Senate race, another open seat, the Tribune picked Republican Joe Neal over Melinda Bush, who was endorsed by the Herald.
So, what can we read into all of this? Perhaps nothing more than the Herald is trying for a political balance in its endorsements... after all, it did endorse Sid Mathias over Carol Sente. But I think on the whole, the Herald is weighting candidates who tend to have more liberal views on 'social issues' more favorably than the Tribune, which is concentrating on economics. Given the state of the State of Illinois, we might suggest that issues like pension reform ought to be taking a higher priority.
The DH also has a reputation for wanting to be on the winning side of the elections whenever it makes its endorsements... witness how it came out on the Link-Castella race, which notably did not deter the Trib from going with Castella. That probably bodes well for Mathias, who is in the race of his life against another incumbent, but who I think is going to win out in the end.