Chicago Sun-Times Endorses Rauner, But Not Without Controversy

Are newspaper endorsements more trouble than they're worth?

Here's the Cliffs Notes version of the Chicago Sun-Times' endorsement of Bruce Rauner for Illinois governor:

2011: Sun-Times announces abandonment of political endorsements. October 6, 2014: Sun-Times reports lawsuit story that paints Rauner in bad light. October 6-18, 2014: Rauner campaign complains to Sun-Times about said story. October 2014: Writer of story hires big-name anti-corruption attorney who alleges Rauner campaign sought retribution. October 17, 2014: Sun-Times announces return to endorsing. October 19, 2014: Sun-Times endorses Rauner. October 20, 2014: Sun-Times editor writes column defending "fearless" coverage by reporter who co-wrote Oct. 6 story. Oct. 17: Crain's Chicago Business begins reporting on the controversy and back story.

Thus, the Sun-Times nod arrived in a wave of drama that's unprecedented in the newspaper endorsement process, which can generate tension even under normal circumstances.

So now the Sun-Times has trouble four ways. The Rauner campaign is promoting the paper's endorsement but is still sore that the Oct. 6 story ever appeared. The campaign of Pat Quinn, which loved (and probably encouraged) the Oct. 6 story is mad at the Sun-Times because it believes the Rauner endorsement was an apology of sorts for running the story. Reporter Dave McKinney has had his reputation (a sterling reputation, at that) besmirched. And Sun-Times readers are left to wonder what to make of all this.

The Rauner camp may also be contending with another issue that could drain just as many votes as negative publicity. Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm has been a non-factor in polling thus far but could have a substantial effect on the outcome on Nov. 4.

Capitol Fax publisher Rich Miller writes in his column today that Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers plans to donate a six-figure amount to Grimm's campaign as the election comes to a close. The union already is Grimm's sole donor, having given him $30,000 on Oct. 8. See how this could affect the race as a whole at Reboot Illinois.