ABC News: Democratic grassroots strength to face test in 2018 midterms

Lara Taylor credits the election of Donald Trump as the spark that got her fired up about politics.

The adjunct college professor and mother of three daughters said the results of the 2016 presidential contest were a “kick in the teeth.”

Determined to do something, she and her sister traveled to Washington, D.C., for the January 2017 women’s march and, upon her return to Illinois, she started going to community gatherings and meetings, which led to her becoming a leader in the local Indivisible movement.

The Indivisible grassroots movement sprang from Trump’s election and has spawned thousands of groups across the country.

These progressive soldiers helped flip 15 Virginia state house seats to Democrats in 2017 and got out the vote for Democrat Doug Jones in the December Alabama U.S. Senate race. They have now turned their eyes to the 2018 midterms.

There are two big contests in March where their power will be tested and in two different ways: the special election in Pennsylvania on March 13 where they are working on get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic nominee Conor Lamb – and the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District on March 20, where they are attempting to defeat incumbent Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski with a more liberal rival.

While it’s too early to say the Indivisible movement may have the effect on Democrats that the Tea Party had on Republicans in 2010, when conservative enthusiasm helped the GOP retake the House but later led to divisive primaries where ultra-conservative candidates ultimately couldn’t perform in the general election, their enthusiasm is making itself known in competitive races like in Illinois, where Taylor’s group is heavily involved.

“A lot of fury and tornado energy has been organized in the grassroots,” she told ABC News.

Her group, Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park, is one of three local Illinois chapters that have endorsed liberal activist Marie Newman in her Democratic primary challenge of seven-term Rep. Lipinski.

Their move reflects the divide that the Democratic Party has dealt with since the 2016 election: the split between the moderate and liberal wings embodied in the presidential primary contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

The Illinois primary contest reflects that conflict.

In addition to the liberal grassroots endorsing Newman, Sanders endorsed her on Thursday, saying Newman has “made it clear that she will be a champion for working families in Illinois, which is why I am proud to support her campaign.”

Lipinski, meanwhile, has the endorsement of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi along with strong union support – including the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Chicago Fire Fighters Union, and the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

And unions can do the canvassing, door knocking and voter registration that Indivisible performs Newman – the type of ground game that can make a big difference in the primary election.

“In this incredibly high stakes race, having Indivisible in our corner is critical. Their members are fiercely dedicated to the progressive values that this campaign is all about, and the grassroots energy they add to our already robust field operation only further bolsters our momentum as we head into the final weeks of this election,” Newman told ABC News in a statement.

Lipinski, however, has warned the Democratic Party against creating a left-wing version of the Tea Party.

“There’s a battle for what the Democratic Party is going to be,” Lipinski told WGN radio on Sunday. “There are those who want to have a Tea Party of the left in the Democratic Party to match, unfortunately, what happened to the Republicans.”

He also made a play for Sanders voters. The interview took place before the Vermont senator announced his endorsement of Newman.

“We have to be for working men and women,” Lipinski said. “That brings all Democrats together and I think that’s what we should focus on. I think that’s what Bernie Sanders focused on.”

The grassroots groups claim Lipinski, a Blue Dog Democrat, is too conservative for the district, particularly pointing to his record in opposing abortion rights.


WBEZ: March 9, 2018: Lipinski Vs. Newman, And Its National Effect

Just when you think Illinois politics can’t get any weirder … it does.

This week, WBEZ’s politics team digs into the heated primary race between U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman that could be a bellwether for where the Democratic Party is headed. The team also breaks down the flurry of campaign donations made by Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker — and why they’re causing a dustup.

And last but not least, WBEZ’s Dave McKinney walks listeners through what happened after a state hearing on the deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak, when he tried to get answers from officials in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

Here are some highlights for this week’s Illinois Elections 2018 podcast, which also includes host Becky Vevea and WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel and Tony Arnold. You can get the podcast delivered to you every week by subscribing here.

National spotlight on U.S Rep Dan Lipinski vs. Marie Newman

Mariah Woelfel: [This primary race] is largely being portrayed as a case study for where the Democratic Party is headed in a time of divisive politics, where a left-leaning candidate, in this case Marie Newman, says the time is up for tolerating Lipinski’s conservative positions.

Becky Vevea: So what are the biggest differences between these two candidates? What are their positions?

Woelfel: There are a few. Newman attacks Lipinski for his position on gay marriage, calling him anti-LGBTQ. Lipinski says he supports gay marriage as the law of the land, but he has in the past voted for legislation that critics say is a blow to equality. Lipinski is anti-abortion, and Newman supports abortion rights. She would definitely argue there’s no room for anti-abortion Democrats in Congress.

Lipinski is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. He’s voted against Obamacare and against the DREAM Act, but he touts those positions as evidence that’s he’s willing to reach across the aisle.

Slate: Bernie Sanders Joins the Bandwagon Against a Blue Dog

Bernie Sanders has endorsed his fourth congressional candidate of 2018—and unlike the first three, this one is aiming to take out a sitting Democratic congressman, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski. The seven-term lawmaker has long been a target of progressives who see his anti-abortion and anti-LGTBQ views as out of step with the national Democratic Party. But Lipinski had never faced a serious primary challenge—until this year, that is.

For most of his career, Lipinski has been an afterthought for national Democrats, comfortably holding down a safe seat in a suburban Chicago district. But as the party tries to harness a wave of energy unleashed by Sanders’ primary run and then magnified by the anti-Trump resistance, Lipinski has become a lightning rod for the left and his primary has become one of the most closely-watched in the country. While Nancy Pelosi has insisted there’s no “litmus test” for House candidates, a number of Democratic leaders appear to disagree, enthusiastically lining up behind his progressive challenger, Marie Newman.

“Marie Newman has made it clear that she will be a champion for working families in Illinois, which is why I am proud to support her campaign,” Sanders said in a statement on Thursday, which went on to tout a number of Newman’s policy goals that line up with his own, including Medicare for all and raising the minimum wage to $15. “I am proud to stand with Marie and look forward to continuing to fight alongside her on these and other critical issues once she’s elected to Congress.”

Our Revolution, the PAC that sprung up from the remains of the his 2016 campaign, had already endorsed Newman, and Sanders himself had suggested he was leaning toward doing the same during a recent swing through the Midwest to stump for the other House candidates he’s backing.

At this point, Sanders is joining a rather crowded bandwagon. Newman already has the backing of a wide swath of liberal groups, ranging from establishment-leaning ones like the Service Employees International Union and the Human Rights Campaign to more progressive outfits like and Democracy for America. Bernie isn’t even the first Democratic lawmaker to back Newman—New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luís Gutierrez beat him to that punch.


Oak Lawn Patch: Bernie Sanders Endorses Marie Newman In Democratic Primary

In what is being viewed as a snub to Congressman Dan Lipinski, Sen. Bernie Sanders endorses Marie Newman in Illinois 3rd District primary.

LA GRANGE, IL — Marie Newman, who is battling to unseat Western Springs Democrat Dan Lipinski for Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District, got a big boost from Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Newman and Lipinski are both running neck and neck in the polls. Sanders announced Thursday that he is backing Newman against the incumbent congressman in the March 20 Democratic primary. The contentious Illinois 3rd Democratic primary is receiving national attention as one of the top races to watch in primary season.

Sanders won Illinois’s 3rd by eight points in the 2016 presidential primary. The Sanders-related progressive organization Our Revolution has already endorsed Newman. Sanders swung through Chicago last week stumping for Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is running in Illinois’s 4th Congressional District to fill a vacancy left by the retiring Luis Gutierrez. Sanders said it was important to elect as many progressive Democrats as possible in the U.S. Senate and House.

“Marie Newman has made it clear that she will be a champion for working families in Illinois, which is why I am proud to support her campaign” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “In Congress, Marie will fight for Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and providing workers with benefits such as paid sick leave, while protecting Medicare and Social Security. She will defend women’s rights, LGBT rights and ensure immigrants have a safe path to citizenship. I am proud to stand with Marie and look forward to continuing to fight alongside her on these and other critical issues once she’s elected to Congress.”

The Newman campaign called the endorsement a “game changer” in her bid to unseat the seven-term congressman. Politico described Sanders’ endorsement of Newman as a “snub” to Lipinski.

“The tides are changing here in the Third district of Illinois. For far too long, Dan Lipinski has lost no sleep over ignoring the needs of hardworking families–but that stops now. I will be the unabashedly progressive champion that women and families across this district and beyond deserve, never compromising on the values they work hard every single day to achieve,” said Marie Newman in a written statement. “I could not be more proud to have the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders who has been the leading champion for working families in our nation. I look forward to working alongside him to ensure that when you work hard and play by the rules, you will have a shot at the American Dream.”


Talking Points Memo: Bernie Sanders Endorses Rep. Dan Lipinski’s Dem Primary Opponent

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed Marie Newman in her bid to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)  Thursday morning, making him the latest big-name liberal to oppose the conservative Lipinski’s reelection.

“Marie Newman has made it clear that she will be a champion for working families in Illinois, which is why I am proud to support her campaign,” Sanders said in a statement released by Newman’s campaign, touting her support for universal Medicare, a $15 minimum wage, legal abortion, gay rights and undocumented immigrant rights. “I am proud to stand with Marie and look forward to continuing to fight alongside her on these and other critical issues once she’s elected to Congress.”

Sanders joins Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in backing Newman, who is giving Lipinski his toughest challenge of his 14-year career and looks like she has a good shot at defeating him in their March 20 primary.

She’s also had huge help from an array of national liberal groups irate at Lipinski for bucking Democrats on key issues from Obamacare to immigration to abortion to gay rights in his decade-plus in Congress, even though he represents a safely Democratic district. NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY’s List, the SEIU, the Human Rights Campaign and are all supporting Newman in the race.

Sanders won Lipinski’s district, which stretches from Chicago’s South Side into its southwestern suburbs, by 8 points in the 2016 Democratic primary. Lipinksi actually endorsed him afterwards and backed him at the Democratic National Convention, but their voting records have little in common except for a shared opposition to big trade deals.

A poll released by NARAL earlier this week found Lipinski clinging to a two-point lead over Newman in a race where he’d started out with a huge advantage.

Chicago Sun-Times: Bernie Sanders endorses Marie Newman in fight for Dan Lipinski seat: Big boost

Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Marie Newman in her battle to defeat Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., an expected boost that could help turn out the Democratic progressives she needs in the March 20 primary.

The Newman/Lipinski contest for the 3rd Congressional District will be a test of the political power of newly energized progressive Democrats on city/southwest suburban political turf anchored by a cluster of old-style remnants of Democratic machine wards on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

Sanders, a Vermont Independent, beat Clinton in this district in the 2016 Illinois Democratic presidential primary.The Sanders backing for Newman means a lot – if it translates to turnout.

The Sanders boost comes as early voting has already started in Illinois. It’s not known yet if he will visit the district to rally voters, cut commercials for her, help her fundraise or do robo calls.

When I talked to Sanders last month he signaled his backing of Newman was on the way. He told me the door was “absolutely” open to an endorsement. He told me his 2018 goal is “to do everything I can to elect progressive members to Congress” as he is also considering a 2020 second bid for the White House.

The Sanders related Illinois political organization “Our Revolution,” has already endorsed Newman. Sanders was in Chicago last month to stump for Cook County Board Member Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, running in the Democratic primary for the seat vacated by retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.


Oak Lawn Patch: Lipinski, Newman In ‘Statistical Dead Heat’ In Democratic Primary

Congressman Dan Lipinski leads challenger Marie Newman by two points in the upcoming primary, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

LAGRANGE, IL — A new poll shows Congressman Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman in a “statistical dead heat” in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District Democratic race. Lipinski is facing his first real challenger as he battles to stay alive in the upcoming March 20 primary. The poll was commissioned by NARAL Pro Choice America, which has been pumping money into the upstart LaGrange challenger’s campaign. The race is being touted as one of the most watched Democratic primaries in the country and has attracted national attention.

The poll was conducted by Raleigh, NC-based Public Policy Polling. According to the survey, Lipinski leads Newman by two points — 43 to 41 percent — with 15 percent “not sure.” The poll was conducted from Feb. 27 to Feb. 28 using automated telephone interviews, and surveyed 648 likely Democratic primary voters in Illinois’s 3rd District. The margin of error is 3.9 percent.

The breakdown of those who participated in the survey are:

  • 55% women, 45% men
  • 16% Hispanic/Latino, 71% white, 7% African-American, 6% other
  • 31% aged 18-45; 46% 46-65; 23% older than 65

Among men and women, the survey noted:

  • Men – Lipinski 43%, Newman 40%
  • Women – Lipinski 44%, Newman 43%
  • Not sure – Women 17%, Men 13%

A breakdown of the respondents by race/ethnic background indicated:

  • Hispanic/Latino – Lipinski 44%, Newman 33%, not sure 23%
  • White – Lipinski 43%, Newman 46%, not sure 11%
  • African-American – Lipinski 54%, Newman 26%, not sure 21%
  • Other – Lipinski 35%, Newman 29%, not sure 36%

And by age:

  • 18-45 – Lipinski 48%, Newman 35%, not sure 17%
  • 46-65 – Lipinski 38%, Newman 48%, not sure 14%
  • Older than 65 – Lipinski 48%, Newman 36%, not sure 15%

See the PPP memo and crosstabs.

Lipinski leads the Blue Dog Coalition, a congressional caucus of fiscally conservative Democrats and is staunchly pro-life. Newman has attacked Lipinski as a “Republican running as a Democrat” who “votes with Republicans most of the time.” Progressive Democrats view Newman as a chance to unseat Lipinski and put House Democrats on a progressive track.


Marie Newman to Trump, Lipinski: Stop Playing Politics With 800,000 Young Lives



In response to Donald Trump’s self-imposed deadline today to expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for hundreds of thousands of young DREAMers, progressive Democrat Marie Newman, who is challenging incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski in the March 20 primary election for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, released the following statement:

“Donald Trump has no problem tearing families apart to make himself feel like the he’s in control. His self-imposed deadline to derail the lives of more than 800,000 young people and their families is not only morally wrong, but it is economic and politically idiotic.

“Working families across the 3rd Congressional District want a Clean Dream Act–but Dan Lipinski, as usual, voted against their best interests, kowtowing to Donald Trump’s extreme hate-filled agenda and even praising Trump as a champion for immigration reform.”

“DREAMers can’t wait for the courts continue to debate the future. Now more than ever, Democrats must to stand up strongly and demand a Clean Dream Act. Democrats must hold the line until we have a plan that protects young people. But Dan Lipinski betrayed our young people right out of the gate.

“Families in the 3rd District deserve a representative in Congress who will work tirelessly in Congress to make sure they never have to question whether they have a safe place in this country.”


New York Times: As Primaries Begin, Divided Voters Weigh What It Means to Be a Democrat

PALOS HILLS, Ill. — When Representative Daniel Lipinski, a conservative-leaning Democrat and scion of Chicago’s political machine, agreed to one joint appearance last month with his liberal primary challenger, the divide in the Democratic Party was evident in the audience that showed up.

Mr. Lipinski’s outnumbered supporters were the diminished lunch-pail Democrats that once dominated his Southside district. Those of his rival, Marie Newman, came from the party’s ascendant coalition — young progressives and women like Elizabeth Layden, a Patagonia-clad teacher who explained her opposition to Mr. Lipinski in blunt terms.

“Because he’s a dinosaur, ’cause he’s a phony, ’cause he’s a Republican who claims to be a Democrat,” said Ms. Layden, 49, who has been making phone calls and knocking on doors to help unseat Mr. Lipinski, a seven-term House member, in the primary race this month. “Hello, women’s rights, and hello, my reproductive rights. Get out of my uterus.”

As the midterm election season gets underway with races in Texas on Tuesday and Illinois on March 20, contests like this one illustrate the turmoil of the Trump-era Democratic Party. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to take back control of the House and are hoping a surge of grass-roots energy, activism and fund-raising at levels unseen since the rise of Barack Obama can help play a crucial role.

Yet the backlash to President Trump’s divisive politics has also fueled a demand by the party’s progressive wing for ideological purity and more diverse representation, a tension that could reshape what it means to be a Democrat.


The Telegraph: Civil war among Democrats as ‘mini-Momentums’ seek to shove party leftwards

On a clear, bright morning in Chicago, Marie Newman lists all the ways seven-term congressman Dan Lipinski has failed the city.

“This guy has been getting away with horrible, dangerous views and votes for 13 years,” she said in her campaign headquarters.

“He’s done absolutely nothing for working families. He’s on a mission against women for sure … He is anti-immigrant on every front.”

Such fierce attacks are not unusual between political opponents. The difference is both these candidates are from the same party: the Democrats.

Mrs Newman, a 53-year-old businesswoman, has entered politics for the first time not just to try and unseat Mr Lipinski, who represents Illinois’s 3rd congressional district in Washington, but also to send a message about the future of her party.

“He is a registered Democrat but he is not a Democrat,” she told the Telegraph. “I’m a real Democrat. I’m a true Democrat.”

Mrs Newman’s issues are ones shared by “progressives” across the country: $15 an hour minimum wage, Medicare – a government-funded health insurance – for all, better protections for illegal migrants and more gender equality.