Starting on Friday, businesswoman Marie Newman rolled out a trio of major endorsements in her effort to unseat Blue Dog Rep. Dan Lipinski in next month’s Democratic primary for Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District. The first came from EMILY’s List, which is devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women at all levels of the ballot but very seldom backs challengers to incumbents.
Here, they made an exception, and with good reason: Lipinski has the most aggressively anti-abortion voting record among Democrats in the House, almost shockingly so. He’s repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood, was one of just three Democrats to support a Republican bill that would have prevented insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges from covering abortion services, and is even co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus.
When it comes to reproductive rights, Lipinski’s record is, in fact, indistinguishable from that of a hardcore Republican; Newman, by contrast, is 100 percent pro-choice. In 2018, that makes this is a no-brainer for a group like EMILY’s List, and its decision to get on board could pay huge dividends for Newman.
Over its 33-year existence, EMILY’s List has become one of the most influential players in Democratic politics, and while it operates in many areas (such as candidate recruitment), there are two main ways it could help Newman down the stretch run: “bundling” contributions from its extensive network of donors and making independent expenditures on Newman’s behalf, like paying for mailers or field operatives. There’s no word yet whether EMILY plans to take either step, but even the organization’s seal of approval is a boost for Newman.
Humiliatingly, Lipinski also claimed that he’s a cosponsor of federal legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15, but as the Chicago Sun-Times‘s Lynn Sweet points out, he only signed on to that bill on Jan. 29. Crucially, that was five days after Lipinski declined to back a $15 minimum wage in a joint appearance with Newman before the Sun-Times editorial board. Evidently, that inexplicable blunder drew real blood.
Lipinski does still maintain a large financial edge, though. He just reported raising $228,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, and he still has a hefty $1.6 million in the bank. Newman pulled in $161,000 during the same timeframe—much better than her prior quarter (in which she raised $76,000), but with $236,000 left over, she trails in cash-on-hand by a wide margin. We need to help her make up the difference, and fast.