CHICAGO (WLS) --The Chicago Tribune endorsed Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth over Senator Mark Kirk in the race for the U.S. Senate, citing the incumbent's stroke in making their choice.
The Republican-leaning Chicago Tribune endorsed Sen. Kirk in his five successful runs for Congress and in 2010 when he won his seat in the U.S. Senate.
After his 2012 stroke, he returned to work a year later using crutches and a wheelchair. Kirk's doctors said Kirk's cognitive abilities had not been affected.
But on Friday, eleven days after Kirk appeared before the Tribune editorial board, the newspaper wrote:
"We cannot tiptoe around the issue of Kirk's recovery and readiness...due to the forces beyond his control, Kirk no longer can perform to the fullest the job of a U.S. senator."
Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said he supports Duckwork in the election while also considering himself a personal friend of Kirk. Durbin was there for his colleague's return to the capitol in 2013.
"To go into deep analysis of the impact of a stroke on anyone is beyond me and I don't know that the editorial writers of the Tribune have a special expertise in that either," Durbin said.
Fewer than 24 hours before the Tribune endorsed his opponent, Kirk was in a Springfield hospital to highlight the improved treatment and recovery of stroke victims.
"Remember, were going to have about 300,000 citizens of Illinois who may suffer a stroke this year. I want to make sure they are advantaged because Mark Kirk was their Senator," Kirk said.
Kirk's campaign said the Tribune citing the candidate's health was, "A low-blow and cheap shot by the Chicago Tribune that is not based on fact or reality."
The Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Duckworth but did not base it on any concern that Kirk is not healthy enough for the job.
The Duckworth campaign had no comment on Kirk's health.