The Dailys Eccentric Endorsements

Difference between Chicago's dailys becomes less obvious

Sure, the Tribune's endorsement of Barack Obama (sort of) shook the earth among the insider set well-aware that the paper had never before backed a Democrat for president.

And truth be told, if Obama was from, say, San Francisco, but otherwise the exact same person, that endorsement never would have come. Instead, the paper would have tried to warn us away from the socialist threat to the fiber of America. But that's not the only surprise in the local endorsement game.

The Sun-Times, for example, still bills itself on its editorial page as "The Progressive Independent Conscience of the City," a moniker it introduced a few years ago when it announced it was returning to its liberal roots. And yet, today's endorsement of incumbent Peter Roskam in the 6th congressional district is the third Republican the paper has backed in races with a certain level of competitiveness and even national scrutiny. Roskam's Democratic opponent is Jill Morgenthaler, a retired Army Reserve colonel who also served as the state's homeland security director - and shares the paper's position on abortion, which Roskam does not. Apparently she was too liberal for the progressive conscience of the city.

The paper previously endorsed Republican Martin Ozinga, who has the personal backing of Dick Cheney, in the 11th congressional district over Democratic state Sen. Debbie Halvorson; and incumbent 10th district Rep. Mark Kirk over Democratic challenger Dan Seals, who has the backing of Barack Obama.

The Sun-Times called its backing of Kirk an "easy choice." Not so for the Tribune, which endorsed Kirk today but likes Seals so much the paper says it wishes he were running in the 9th district, where he actually lives. The 9th is represented by Jan Schakowksy, whose name is often mentioned as a possible replacement in the U.S. Senate should Obama win the presidency.

The Tribune also backed Ozinga today, but in the real switcheroo went for Morgenthaler over Roskam.

In the end, it seems, institutional history and marketing labels don't account for much; both papers are similarly -- even drearily -- located on the political spectrum. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by any of their endorsements anymore.

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