Huffpost Chicago

Jeremy Karpen, Green Party Candidate, Wins Tribune Endorsement Over Incumbent Berrios

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Jeremy Karpen, the Green Party underdog in Illinois's 39th House District, won a major endorsement in his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Maria Antonia "Toni" Berrios.

The Chicago Tribune released its list of State House endorsements Wednesday, and Karpen was given the nod over Berrios, the Democrat seeking her fifth term in the Northwest Side district.

She is the daughter of machine power-broker Joe Berrios, against whom the Tribune has consistently editorialized this year in his race for Cook County Assessor. As HuffPost Chicago reported last week in our profile of the race in the 39th, Toni Berrios hoped to distance herself from her father's critics.

"My father is my father; I can't change that," Berrios said. "It's sad that just because I'm his daughter, people don't want to support me."

But in its endorsement, the Tribune takes Toni Berrios to task not for who her father is, but for how she's sided with his politics:

39th District (Near Northwest Side) -- Two years ago, we endorsed Democratic Rep. Maria Antonia "Toni" Berrios over Green Party candidate Jeremy Karpen, a professional counselor who works with at-risk kids in Chicago. Berrios has firmly established she is a loyal soldier protecting entrenched power in Springfield. We disagree with Karpen on plenty of issues. But he says, "My campaign is about more than winning office, it is about shaking the foundation of the political machine. ..." Fair enough. Karpen is endorsed.

Indeed, Karpen understands the symbolic importance of his candidacy, as he explained to HuffPost Chicago in an extensive interview.

"This one would be a big story, being able to win against the daughter of Joe Berrios, who is a symbol of the Democratic machine and everything that is wrong with the machine," Karpen said.

In 2008, Karpen won 21 percent of the vote against Berrios in the same race. This time around, though, he's raised more money, organized more volunteers and is co-ordinating his campaign with Green Party candidates for governor and U.S. Senate.

And with the endorsement from the Tribune, the unlikely Green Party candidate is heading into October with momentum at his back.