Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, “Newman topples Lipinski dynasty in the 3rd District”

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Progressive Democrat edges eight-term congressman in primary

Dan Lipinski, accompanied by his wife Judy, speaks to reporters at a press conference on March 18 following his apparent defeat to Marie Newman in the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary
(Bob Skolnik/Contributor)

Marie Newman has ended one of the longest lasting political dynasties in Illinois politics.

With nearly all votes counted, Newman led Lipinski by 2,783 votes. Newman received 47.27 percent of the vote while Lipinski received 44.59 percent. Candidates Rush Darwish and Charles Hughes trailed far behind with 5.84 percent and 2.28 percent of the vote respectively. 

At a press conference at his Oak Lawn campaign office on March 18, Lipinski acknowledged that reality, saying that that he had called Newman.

“As the numbers stand right now, it appears that I will not prevail,” Lipinski said, adding that he would support the winner of the primary.

Newman issued a statement later Wednesday afternoon.

“Earlier today, I spoke with Congressman Lipinski, who ran a tough race,” Newman said. “I want to thank him for reaching out, and I’m hopeful we can work together in the coming months to fight for our community and to get things done for the Third Congressional District.

“I am so proud of the coalition we built in this campaign and I am looking forward to continuing to meet with people and hearing their concerns on the campaign trail over the next few months.”

Results won’t be certified until March 31.

In the November general election, Newman will face Republican Mike Fricilone, a member of the Will County Board, who easily won the GOP primary with 57.6 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing Oak Lawn realtor Catherine O’Shea (32.4 percent). Perennial candidate Art Jones, a white supremacist notorious for his history as a neo-Nazi, received 10 percent of the vote.

Newman nearly defeated Lipinski in the 2018 primary, losing by just 2,145 votes. But with two more years of campaigning, a passionate base of nearly 1,000 volunteers and help from outside progressive groups, Newman seems to have ended the career of one of the most conservative Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

Lipinski is one of only three pro-life Democrats in the House. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, largely because of concerns about abortion and the requirement that employers pay for contraceptives.

He opposed same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court legalized it in 2015, and failed to endorse Barack Obama in 2012.

At his news conference Lipinski said the abortion issue was responsible for his defeat.

“There was one issue that loomed especially large in this campaign; the fact that I am pro-life,” Lipinski said. “I was pilloried in millions of dollars of TV ads and mailers because of this. I was shunned by many of my colleagues and other Democratic Party members and operators. I was shunned because of my pro-life stance.”

Lipinski said that he had no regrets for that philosophy.

“The pressure in the Democratic Party on the life issue has never been as great as it is now,” Lipinski said. “Over the years I’ve watched many other politicians succumb to pressure and change their position on this issue. I’ve always said that I would never give up being pro-life and standing up for babies in the womb.”

Lipinski estimated he was outspent on TV by a margin of at least six to one. On Election Day, Newman campaign manager Ben Hardin estimated that the Newman campaign and supporters had outspent Lipinski on TV by a margin of five to one.

Many TV ads were produced and paid for by the political action committee Woman Vote! which is affiliated with EMILY’S List, a Washington, D.C., based group which supports pro-choice Democratic female candidates.

Women Vote! spent nearly $1 million on the campaign. According to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets website, Woman Vote! spent nearly $600,000 in anti-Lipinski expenditures and nearly $400,000 for pro-Newman ads.

NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Newman as did presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and progressive first-term New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Newman’s victory was also powered by volunteers like Molly and Zak Knott of Brookfield. Molly Knott knocked on doors, did phone banking and sent text messages to voters, urging them to vote for Newman. Zak and the couple’s two daughters also went door to door for Newman.

“I love Marie Newman,” said Molly Knott after voting for Newman Tuesday at Congress Park School, where she teaches fourth grade. “I know that she will fight for our district and fight for all the people in our district. And as much as I love her, that’s how much I hate Dan Lipinski. And I told him that to his face.”

Many Newman volunteers did not live in the 3rd District, which stretches from the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago southwest to near Joliet, It includes the Lyons Township portions of Brookfield and Riverside. Until 2012, the 3rd District included all of Riverside and Brookfield and much of North Riverside.

Riverside resident Lindsay Morrison, a leader of the Indivisible West Suburban Action League, which is based in Riverside, was an especially energetic volunteer for Newman going door to door numerous times and doing other things.  Morrison, who also volunteered for Newman two years ago, noticed that the Newman campaign seemed better organized this time.

“They have great material and good talking points for volunteers,” Morrison said. “As a volunteer, I have felt more prepared to go out and talk about her strengths and what she’ll do for the district this time.” 

The 3rd District is split between suburban areas and the Southwest Side of the city of Chicago. Newman built her winning margin in the suburbs, taking 48 percent of the vote in the suburban Cook County portion of the district compared to just over 42 percent for Lipinski. She also held her own in Chicago.

“We knocked on over 50,000 doors in the city and she’s hosted over 300 meet-and-greets since January, and a good chunk of those have been in some of our target city wards,” Hardin said on Election Day.

An indefatigable campaigner, Newman has been essentially running against Lipinski for nearly three years. A former advertising executive from LaGrange, she is much more progressive than Lipinski, supporting a Medicare for All single-payer health insurance system.

Someone named Lipinski has represented the Southwest Side of Chicago and the southwest suburbs of Chicago for nearly 38 years.

Dan Lipinski was first elected to Congress in 2004 when his father, William Lipinski, retired after winning the Democratic primary. The move allowed party leaders to pick his replacement on the general election ballot.

They chose his son, who at the time was teaching political science at the University of Tennessee. William Lipinski served in Congress for 22 years.

Newman received support from voters who wanted a new face in Congress and a more liberal representative.

“She seemed to be a little more progressive and trying new things than our old boy Dan,” said Brookfield resident Paul Sheehan after voting for Newman at Congress Park School.

Lipinski had the support of party regulars such as Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, who also serves as the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, and state Sen. Steve Landek, who also serves as the Lyons Township Democratic Committeeman.

But the Chicago Democratic organization, which has been weakened by a far-reaching federal investigation that has resulted in the indictment of Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, a power broker on the Southwest Side, and others couldn’t deliver enough city votes for Lipinski this time.

Lipinski received some help from anti-abortion Republicans, like Teresa O’Brien of Brookfield, who said she took a Democratic ballot Tuesday to vote for Lipinski. And some voters voted for Lipinski because of the familiarity of his name.

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