The Chicago Sun-Times has decided Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., isn't such a bad guy after all.
It was the Sun-Times' relentless investigation of Rostenkowski's personal and campaign finances that was partly responsible for the indictment of the House Ways and Means Committee chairman this year. But Sunday, the newspaper endorsed Rostenkowski for re-election over what it characterized as his "little-known, right-wing" Republican opponent, personal injury lawyer Michael P. Flanagan.
Accompanied by a flattering drawing of Rostenkowski, the endorsement said voters in Illinois' 5th Congressional District face a choice between a candidate who "is accused of ripping off taxpayers but knows how to get legislation through a gridlocked Congress" and an opponent who "opposes gun control, abortion rights and many important federal programs."
"We remain appalled by (Rostenkowski's) apparent belief that being a congressman brings with it generous personal entitlements," the paper said. "However, there is no denying that Rostenkowski has been a real leader in Congress. . . . And, yes, he has delivered federal dollars to Chicago."
Rostenkowski stressed the same themes _ his leadership in Congress and his importance to his home city and state _ in the March Democratic primary in which he defeated two opponents in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, including one who had the backing of the Sun-Times.
Flanagan said he was not surprised by the endorsement, adding that it would have no effect on his campaign, which has been virtually invisible. He has received almost no help from national Republican campaign organizations.