Monday, October 15, 2012

Economics v. Social Issues: Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald Split Endorsements in Three Key Lake County Races

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.


Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

As Ann Coulter once asked of liberals, "just how much is partial birth abortion worth to you, anyway?"

The economic price of clinging to social liberalism can never be too high for some people.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis, TA. I think you are spot on

A. Bees said...

Agree with you on most point here, except the Link v. Castella race.

When an established elected official, on either side of the aisle, has been placed into leadership and has benefited their district, without major scandal, it is questionable for any paper to not endorse that person. I know this won't be a popular statement here, BUT Link has served for a long period of time, is in leadership and he has done some good things for his district. The same as Bill Peterson did and Sid Mathias has done.

I certainly agree with you that the Neal snub is laughable and the Friedman snub makes you scratch your head, BUT I don't think that there is a strong argument against Link. And I do think that Link would have some ammunition to blast the Tribune on this one.

Team America said...

ABees - you defending Link, really? I'm shocked and horrified. ;-)

In all seriousness, to take the other side of your argument, Terry Link has been the 30th District's rep in Springfield for over 10 years. What has he done to promote economic development and jobs in the 30th District in that time? What has he done on other issues such as the Waukegan Harbor cleanup? What has he done at all on a local level, aside from singlemindedly promoting a casino that would bring a questionable net benefit (at best) to the community... and he hasn't even achieved that.

If you are aware of some accolades due Link that I am overlooking, please provide some specifics, and we can discuss.

A. Bees said...

Let me clarify. I'm not a Link fan. Not a supporter. Wouldn't vote for the guy.

I can say that during my political days I did work with the Senator on a variety of issues such as road dollars, sexual predator legislation and various pieces of case work. He wasn't amazing, but he and his office were better than many (i.e. Karen May and Susan Garrett).

But I'm really not in the game of defending Link. The basis of my post is around newspaper endorsement sessions. It is very difficult for a newspaper to endorse a challenger when the incumbent has accomplished much and gained significant power. In truth, that incumbent carries more weight for their district than the challenger would for a long time.

In Republican terms it is on par with endorsing a challenger to Roskam or Paul Ryan in Wisconsin.

Team America said...

Hear that, ABees, but you kind of prove my point. While Link has a lot of clout in Springfield (although probably not as much as he'd like the folks back home to think he does), how has be used that power to benefit his district? Moreover, what good is perpetuating power in the same hands (on a statewide level) if all you get is lousy results, which is what we have, when you look at the debt and pension issues, etc.

I think it's clear in this case that even by your criteria, the Tribune simply had more guts to make a call that was right, and not rooted in politics of the past. But that's almost giving the DH too much credit in this case. Like I said, I think Castella just scared them with his viewpoints. That ended up making him unacceptable, which the DH should have just come out and said, rather than having to come up with a bunch of malarkey to justify their endorsement.

As a friend of mine said to me recently, newspaper editorial boards fail to use the option to make no endorsement fair too rarely.

Anonymous said...

ABees -

You say that Link has had no scandals.
What about the fraudulent petition drive with kitchen tabling the signatures including his previous opponent and dead people? Link signed off on his submitted petitions and if we had a State's Attorney who was willing to pursue criminal violations of election law, Link would be in jail and not in Springfield.

Trebor of Libertyville

A. Bees said...

Trebor -

Honestly it isn't a scandal. Until there are enough legs for our Republican State's Attorney to prosecute then there is nothing there.

Truth? It's probably Pete Couval pulling his normal crap, but there has never been enough of a link to prosecute. Hell there are tons of those types of examples. What about in 2000 when Lauren Beth Gash supporters were in Waukegan and N. Chicago handing out packs of cigarettes with $5 and a Gash sticker on them? We could also look at the instance when Terry Link's wife and a Republican woman got into a screaming match at a polling place about electioneering. There are always tons of suspect of falsified petitions. I can't remember who it was, but about 6 years ago someone hired help to get petitions signed and they got thousands....from Chicago.

It comes down to this. We have a system of checks and balances. Everyone identifies things that need to be addressed by that system. But we are biased and not every issue is a scandal that the system needs to address. Sometimes things certainly slip through the cracks, but it still isn't a scandal until the system deems it one.

Anonymous said...


Some very good points. However, what it shows me is that we need to elect a State's Attorney who will treat criminal violations of election laws as crimes and prosecute them.

While our current SA has been reluctant to do so, he is retiring. Mike Nerheim is tough enough to go after crimes.

Trebor of Libertyville

Anonymous said...

There's plenty of corruption at the local level in Lake County, corruption gone unaddressed by Waller's Office. Massive corruption for many years in District 5 Lake County involving several municipal, township, and county officials.

Should be interesting if Nerheim or Kennedy picks up where Waller left off and continues to turn the blind-eye in District 5.