CHICAGO — Tensions between the liberal and centrist wings of the Democrat Party are soaring in Illinois District 3.
Longtime centrist Dan Lipinski is taking fire from national progressive groups, who are pouring in support for his opponent.
This year, a seven-term Chicago-area congressman has drawn a serious primary challenge.
Progressives have set their sights on Lipinski, an anti-abortion Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“What I know is the district and I are running this race together for Congress. Mr. Lipinski is running against us in every way and it’s not just health care. They know he is anti-worker, anti-working families, he is anti-LGBTQ,” Marie Newman, a former marketing consultant and anti-bullying advocate, said.
Newman is a first time candidate hoping to tap into anti Trump, #MeToo and grassroots Democratic energy.
With the backing of national progressive groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List, Newman is hammering Lipinski on abortion.
“He also is on an absolute mission against women. He has voted to restrict a woman’s right to choose somewhere upwards of 50 times and several times tried to take funding away from Planned Parenthood, Newman said.
Lipinski has said that he thinks Newman is “extreme on abortion.”
WGN caught up with Lipinski to discuss abortion and other topics.
“A bill that we just passed in the House a couple of weeks ago that says if an infant is born when a botched abortion that that infant has to be taken care of. The organizations that support Ms. Newman oppose that,” Lipinski said.
Longtime Congressional allies have turned their backs on Lipinski. Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schakowsky have endorsed Marie Newman, saying Lipinski votes against Democratic positions too often.
Lipinksi was the only House Democrat not to sign on the Equality Act. There were some studies that said he voted with President Donald Trump often. WGN asked the congressman why he is a Democrat.
“I’m a Democrat because I believe that the government has an important role to play in helping people out, in helping working men and women,” Lipinksi said.
Lipinski’s voting record is at the center of the campaign. He’s changed his mind on several key issues. Lipinski voted against President Obama’s DREAM Act. But he recently backed a pathway to citizenship for so-called “Dreamers.”
He’s also changed course on health care. Newman often points out Lipinski voted against Obamacare in 2010, but now he wants to keep the law on the books with changes.
“On the Affordable Care Act. There are a lot of problems with that bill. I thought we should have passed something better. I’ve been working on fixing the Affordable Care Act ever since it was passed into law,” Lipinski said.
Newman supports health care for all.
Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District crosses Chicago’s Southwest Side, stretching southwest to DuPage County. Lipinski inherited the seat from his father, William Lipinski.
Newman said it’s time for a new voice.
“We’ve had literally 36 years of the Lipinski regime now. That dynasty, that machine,” Newman said.
In today’s polarized political environment, with gerrymandered maps, centrists are an endangered species. On March 20, a big test: Can a conservative Democrat survive the left’s fury?
“I think the issue is today unfortunately there are both parties going to the extreme. I’m someone who clearly believes in bringing people together to solve problems,” Lipinski said.
On the Republican side—disaster. The party said it had a hard time recruiting someone to run. So a Nazi and Holocaust denier stepped up to the plate. Arthur Jones will represent the GOP in this race, even though the party has denounced him.