After well over two years of trying by progressive Democrats, Rep. Dan Lipinski will no longer represent Illinois’s Third Congressional District in the House.
Challenger Marie Newman defeated the longtime representative — who’s also one of the last remaining anti-abortion Democrats — in the Democratic primary on Tuesday night.
Newman, an anti-bullying activist endorsed by the Justice Democrats, also ran against Lipinski in 2018. That year, she fell just short, coming within 2.5 points of unseating him; on Tuesday, she eked out a win, according to Vox’s partners at Decision Desk.
She won by highlighting how she — like Illinois’s Third District — was more in line with the Democratic Party’s ideology than Lipinski, as Vox’s Tara Golshan wrote in June 2019:
“I’m a real Democrat,” Newman likes to tell voters. “To be a real Democrat, you have to believe in the platform,” she said to Vox. She, like Sanders, identifies income inequality as the root cause of American suffering. At a Saturday morning Pet Parade in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood, Newman led a procession of staffers and volunteers — and their dogs — with signs supporting Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, and a Green New Deal. Newman supports abortion rights, the Equality Act, and free college and thinks Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be “repealed and replaced.”
Newman’s victory provides the Justice Democrats with some much-needed good news. Two weeks ago, another one of their candidates, Jessica Cisneros, lost her primary challenge against another anti-abortion House Democrat, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar.
All told, the Justice Democrats have backed nine primary challengers this cycle, including Newman and Cisneros.
But while both Lipinski and Cuellar fall far outside of the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party on a range of issues, they retain party support. That’s made attempts to primary them an uphill climb.
As Golshan reported last year, the national party had instituted a “policy to protect incumbents” like Lipinski:
In early April, the official campaign arm for House Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said it wouldn’t do business with political vendors — like direct mail companies, advertising firms, or political consultants — that also work for candidates challenging incumbent Democrats. They said it was an effort to protect incumbent Democrats, who they believe give the party’s best chance of keeping control in the House. Progressive lawmakers in Congress railed against what they saw as a “divisive” policy that effectively “blacklisted” groups and candidates.
However, Newman managed to peel away some party support: She won the endorsement of Chicago-area Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a member of House Democratic leadership, in 2018 and again in 2020.
She also spent heavily to power her successful second run for the Third District Democratic nomination. At the beginning of March, she was outspending Lipinski two to one on television advertising, and Politico reported on Tuesday that many Lipinski supporters were visibly nervous about his prospects in a rematch.
Those nerves were merited, apparently: Though Lipinski first won election to the House in 2004, inheriting the seat from his father, he will not be a member of the House when the 117th Congress is sworn in in January 2021.
Newman, in all likelihood, will be: The Third District is a deep blue seat (Lipinski won by almost 48 points in 2018), and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble winning come November.