Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Analysis: Chicago journalists overwhelmingly vote Democrat

Local Government

By LocalLabs News Service | Oct 7, 2016


The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board made headlines last week when it endorsed Gary Johnson for U.S. president.

A Chicago City Wire Analysis study of the primary voting habits of the board's 12 members -- and 56 other reporters and editors for leading publications across the state -- suggests the choice of the libertarian Johnson -- not Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton -- was even more of a detour than it seemed.

Seven of 12 editorial board members -- including editorial page editor John P. McCormick (La Grange Park) -- consistently vote in Illinois Democrat primaries, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. An eighth member, columnist Clarence Page, is a liberal Democrat. The remaining four members have no active record of voting in partisan primaries.

If actual voting records are the measure, the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board has no Republicans.

In local media circles, its members are in good company.

Chicago City Wire examined 366 primary ballots cast over the past three decades by 68 active reporters, editors and news anchors from leading media in Chicago and across the state.

Nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) ballots cast were for Democrats. Only four of 68 journalists (6 percent) were Republican leaning. And then only slightly.

The outliers include Rich Miller, publisher of the popular Springfield newsletter Capitol Fax. He’s voted in seven primaries since 1992, four Republican (‘00, ‘10, ‘12, ‘14)  and three Democrat (‘92, ‘94, ‘98).

Among the journalists analyzed, such balance wasn’t the norm.

At the Chicago Tribune, the largest news organization in the Midwest, all editorial leaders lean left.

Editor-in-Chief R. Bruce Dold (La Grange Park) has voted in seven primaries, four for Democrats and three for Republicans.  Managing Editor Peter Kendall (Glencoe) has voted in six Democrat primaries and one Republican ('14).  Associate Editor Colin J. McMahon (Lake View) has voted in three, all Democrat. Pioneer Press Executive Editor Phil Jurik (Riverside) has voted in six primaries, all Democrat.

Tribune Political Reporter Rick Pearson (Naperville) hasn’t voted in a partisan primary since 1998.

At the Chicago Sun-Times, longtime political reporter and current Associate Managing Editor Scott Fornek hasn’t been as discreet. A resident of Michael Madigan’s 13th Ward, Fornek has voted in 14 primaries since 1990, all for the Democratic party.

Fornek’s boss, Managing Editor Chris Fusco (The Loop), has voted in four primaries, three for Democrats. “Watchdog” political reporter Michael “Mick” Dumke (Rogers Park) has voted in seven primaries, six for Democrats.

Former Sun-Times staffers also strongly lean left.

Political Reporter Natasha Korecki (Irving Park), who joined Politico earlier this year after 12 years at the Sun-Times, has voted in four primaries, all Democrat. DNA Info Senior Editor and former Sun-Times Editor Dave Newbart (Little Italy) and his boss, former Sun-Times Metro Editor and DNA Info Managing Editor Shamus Toomey (Evanston) have voted in eight and nine Democrat primaries, respectively. And none for Republicans.

But they’re not among the most ardent.

Greg Hinz (Lake View), political reporter for Crain's Chicago Business, has the most consistent voting record of any journalist in Chicago. He has voted in 16 primaries back to 1992, all Democrat.

His Crain’s colleague, newly minted politics and government reporter Tom Corfman (Uptown), comes in tied for second (with Fornek), tallying 14 Democrat primaries and no Republican ones.

Former television personalities Carol Marin (Lincoln Park), now political editor at NBC 5 Chicago, and Andy Shaw (The Loop), CEO of the Better Government Association and former ABC 7 Chicago political reporter, have each voted in 13 Democrat primaries.

Marin’s longtime producer, Don Moseley (Lake View), has also voted in 13 Democrat primaries.

Marin has also voted in two Republican ones -- '14 and '06. Moseley and Shaw also voted in the Republican primary in '14.

Mike Flannery (Beverly), political editor at CBS 2 Chicago, has voted in 12 Democrat primaries, but none for Republicans. Chicago Tonight anchor Phil Ponce (Ravenswood) has voted in nine Democrat primaries, one for Republicans.

A study by Indiana University found that just 7 percent of journalists called themselves Republicans versus 28 percent who called themselves Democrats.

Other notable journalist voting records:

-- Stephen Chapman (Lake Forest), Chicago Tribune Editorial Board: four Democrat ('02, '08,'10,'12), three Republican ('96, '98, '00)

-- Monica Davey (Hyde Park), New York Times, Chicago Bureau: two Democrat, zero Republican

-- Hugh Dellios (La Grange Park), AP Chicago Editor: two Democrat, zero Republican

-- Robert Feder (Highland Park), media reporter recently of the Tribune: six Democrat, zero Republican

-- Mark Konkol (Pullman), DNA Info, formerly of Sun-Times: five Democrat, zero Republican

-- Larry Potash (Lake Forest), WGN-TV anchor: two Democrat, zero Republican

-- Gary Marx (Lake View), Chicago Tribune investigative reporter: four Democrat, zero Republican

-- Steve Mills (Irving Park), Chicago Tribune investigative reporter, nine Democrat, zero Republican

-- Dan Ponce (Irving Park), WGN-TV reporter: four Democrat, one Republican

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Organizations in this Story

WGN-TV 9 ChicagoChicago TribuneIndiana UniversityThe New York TimesDNA InfoAssociated Press, Chicago BureauChicago Sun-TimesCapitol FaxCrain's Chicago BusinessBetter Government AssociationCBS 2 ChicagoNBC-5 Chicago

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