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Chicago City Wire

Saturday, February 29, 2020

How will Illinois' political journalists vote on Tuesday? We have a guess.


By LGIS News Service | Nov 5, 2018

Michael hawthorne
Chicago Tribune Michael Hawthorne is covering a key congressional race this election cycle. State records show he has voted in three Democrat primaries and none for Republicans. | Youtube

If Illinois' political journalists were the only ones voting on Tuesday, J.B. Pritzker, Mike Madigan and the rest of the state's Democrats would win in a landslide.

Chicago City Wire analysis of the primary voting records of 100 leading Illinois political journalists found that 93 percent of the primary votes they've collectively cast have been for Democrats, versus just seven percent for Republicans.

All told, out of 424 total primary votes recorded by the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE), 395 of them were for Democrats.

In the March 2018 primary, 57 of the 100 journalists reviewed voted in the Democrat primary. One, Fox 32 Political Editor Mike Flannery, voted in the Republican one. 

Of the 100 journalist voting records analyzed, 79 had cast more Democrat ballots than Republican ones and 18 recorded no primary votes. One journalist cast an equal number of Democrat and Republican ballots, and two cast more ballots for Republicans than Democrats.

Those two are Capitol Fax's Rich Miller (5 GOP / 4 DEM) and Doug Finke, a veteran reporter of the Springfield State Journal-Register (1 / 0).

Miller, who founded the popular Capitol Fax newsletter in 1993, voted in Democrat primaries in 1994, 1996 and 1998, then Republican ones in 2000, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 before pulling a Democrat primary ballot again this past March.

Finke has cast one primary ballot since 1992, in a four-way 2006 Republican primary that included State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, Jim Oberweis, Bill Brady and Ron Gidwitz. Topinka won 38 percent of the primary vote before falling to incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich in the general election.

16 to 0

Democrat-voting journalists have showed considerably more commitment.

Chicago Sun-Times Political Editor Scott Fornek and Crain's Chicago Business Political Writer Greg Hinz have both voted in 16 Democrat primaries and zero for Republicans.

CBS 2 Chicago's Derrick Blakley has voted in nine Democrat primaries and one Republican one (2014). Fox 32's Flannery has voted Democrat eleven times and Republican just once, in March. NBC 5's Carol Marin and her longtime partner-producer Don Moseley have voted in a combined 26 Democrat primaries versus three Republican.

All 19 journalists at the Chicago Sun-Times analyzed voted only Democrat, including Fornek, Editor-in-Chief Chris Fusco, political columnist Dan Mihalopoulos and state politics beat reporter Tina Sfondeles; none have voted in a Republican primary.

All nine journalists at Crain's Chicago Business analyzed voted only Democrat, including Hinz, newly-hired publisher Jim Kirk, editor Michael Arndt and senior reporter Lynne Marek.

The Chicago Tribune's City Hall reporter John Byrne has voted in six Democrat primaries and no Republican ones. Reporter David Heinzmann has voted four times for Democrats, never for Republicans.

"Environment and public health" reporter Michael Hawthorne, who has reported frequently, and critically, this election cycle on U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), has voted in three Democrat primaries and none for Republicans.

Rick Pearson, the longtime Chicago Tribune chief political reporter, has no primary voting record. His wife, Margaret, works for Democrat Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. 

Dave McKinney, the former Chicago Sun-Times Springfield bureau chief who currently covers state politics for WBEZ radio in Chicago, also has no primary voting record. His wife, Ann Liston, is a Democrat political consultant working this cycle for House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago) and Democrat Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios. She has voted in six of six Democrat primaries.

"Non partisan"

Pro Publica Illinois has hired several veteran Chicago journalists over the past year. All are regular Democrat voters, ISBE records show, including Jason Grotto (formerly of the Chicago Tribune), Jodi S. Cohen (Chicago Tribune), Louise Kiernan (Chicago Tribune), Steve Mills (Chicago Tribune) and Mick Dumke (Chicago Sun-Times).

The editor of the Politico Illinois Playbook, Shia Kapos, formerly of Crain's Chicago Business, has voted in six Democrat primaries and no Republican ones. Her assistant, Adrienne Hurst, is also a Democrat voter, as is Kapos' predecessor and now Barrington-based political writer Natasha Korecki.

Korecki has voted in four Democrat primaries and one Republican one.

Staff at the "non-partisan" Better Government Association (BGA) includes no Republicans and nine Democrats, including Chief Executive David Greising of Evanston, formerly chief business correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He has voted in seven Democrat primaries and none for Republicans.

BGA reporter Brett Chase, formerly a Crain's reporter and the wife of Rahm Emanuel communications executive Tammy Chase, has voted in six Democrat primaries and none for Republicans. He has written the BGA's "Politifact Truth-O-Meter" series, where he "fact checks" claims by politicians. 

Other recent BGA hires include former Chicago Tribune Reporters David Kidwell (2 DEM/0 GOP) and Bob Secter (4 DEM, 0 GOP), who served as its Illinois political editor from 1995-2005.

How do your favorite Illinois political journalists vote in primary elections?

Chicago City Wire analyzed the voting records of 100 of the state's top politics and government journalists to test the conventional wisdom. Are they really Democrat-leaning?

NameAgeMedia outletDRTotal
Craig Wall46ABC 7000
Caryn Rousseau40AP202
Jeff McMurray42AP000
John O'Connor55AP000
Sara Burnett45AP000
Sophia Tareen38AP202
Brett Chase53BGA606
Casey Toner35BGA101
Danish Murtaza25BGA202
David Greising58BGA707
David Kidwell57BGA202
John Chase48BGA000
Kathleen Drews31BGA202
Madeline Doubek55BGA549
Rachel Leven33BGA202
Robert H. Secter67BGA404
Flynn McRoberts54Bloomberg11112
Rich Miller56Capitol Fax459
Derrick Blakley64CBS 210111
Yana Kunichoff30Chalkbeat202
Chris DeLuca55Sun-Times415
Chris Fusco45Sun-Times516
Dan Mihalopoulos44Sun-Times202
Fran Spielman60Sun-Times202
Lauren FitzPatrick42Sun-Times617
Mark L. Brown63Sun-Times12012
Maudlyne I. Ihejirka54Sun-Times505
Mitchell Armentrout27Sun-Times202
Mitchell R. Dudek38Sun-Times303
Neil Steinberg58Sun-Times819
Rachel Hinton23Sun-Times101
Sandra Guy57Sun-Times404
Scott Fornek59Sun-Times16016
Stephanie Zimmerman53Sun-Times11011
Steve Warmbir50Sun-Times202
Thomas Frisbie65Sun-Times13013
Timothy Novak60Sun-Times11011
Tina Sfondeles35Sun-Times101
Tom McNamee64Sun-Times101
Bill Ruthhart38Tribune000
David Heinzmann50Tribune404
Elvia Magalon57Tribune000
Gregory Pratt29Tribune202
John Byrne43Tribune606
John P. McCormick68Tribune729
Michael Hawthorne51Tribune303
Mike Riopell36Tribune000
Patrick M. O'Connell41Tribune213
Rick Pearson60Tribune000
Robert Channick60Tribune10010
Steve Johnson55Tribune808
Bettina Chang29City Bureau101
Ann Dwyer54Crain's808
Danielle Narcisse43Crain's101
Frank R. Sennett50Crain's202
Greg Hinz68Crain's16016
Jan Parr57Crain's808
Jim Kirk53Crain's101
Lisa Bertagnoli57Crain's819
Lynne Marek52Crain's404
Michael D. Arndt62Crain's505
Michael J. Flannery67FOX 3211112
Carol Marin70NBC 5 14216
Don Moseley67NBC 513114
Brian Mackey41NPR Illinois000
Dusty Rhodes56NPR Illinois000
Rachel Otwell30NPR Illinois000
Ryan Denham34NPR Illinois202
Joe Vince45Patch202
Jonah Meadows34Patch202
Adrienne Hurst26Politico101
Natasha Korecki44Politico415
Shia Kapos55Politico606
David Eads38ProPublica202
Duass Eldeib36ProPublica101
Jason Grotto45ProPublica101
Jodi S. Cohen42ProPublica808
Louise Kiernan54ProPublica808
Melissa Sanchez34ProPublica202
Mick Dumke47ProPublica819
Steve Mills57ProPublica10010
Bernie Schoenberg64State Journal-Register000
Doug Finke65State Journal-Register011
Hannah Meisel27Daily Line000
Heather Cherone40Daily Line202
Brent McDonald40NY Times101
Julie Bosman39NY Times101
Monica Davey54NY Times303
Robert Chiarito44NY Times314
Alex Keefe35WBEZ000
Dave McKinney54WBEZ000
Kristen Schorsch37WBEZ303
Linda Lutton47WBEZ808
Michael Lansu36WBEZ101
Monica Eng

Patrick K. Smith32WBEZ101
Tony Arnold36WBEZ000
Mark Maxwell29WCIA-TV112
Dan Ponce41WGN-TV617
Amanda Vinicky37WTTW-TV000


Source: Illinois State Board of Elections

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Organizations in this Story

WFLD Fox 32 ChicagoThe State Journal-RegisterChicago TribuneAssociated PressChicago Sun-TimesBetter Government AssociationCBS 2 ChicagoNBC-5 ChicagoABC 7 ChicagoProPublica Illinois

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