Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will endorse progressive Democrat Marie Newman in her primary bid to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of the few remaining anti-abortion lawmakers in the party.
Lipinski defeated Newman by just two points in the 2018 midterms, though he has drawn the ire of progressive groups over his opposition to abortion rights, a stance that has been underlined by a slate of states recently adopting stringent restrictions on the procedure.
“At a time when workers are under attack by Wall Street and women’s rights are under attack by well-funded extremist groups across the country, I am proud to support Marie Newman’s grassroots campaign for Congress,” Sanders said in a statement to The Hill.
“Marie will challenge the establishment by fighting for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, expanding workers’ rights, and she will be a powerful voice for upholding Roe v Wade at a disturbing moment in our history when a woman’s right to control her own body and future is at stake.”
BuzzFeed News was the first to report on Sanders’s endorsement.
Newman has made her support for access to abortion a centerpiece of her primary bid, earning her the endorsements of a slate of abortion rights and progressive groups, as well as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), two other 2020 contenders.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the body responsible for electing Democrats to the House, has struggled with how to deal with Lipinski’s reelection bid. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who chairs the group, pulled out of a fundraiser for him last month, specifically citing her concerns over abortion restrictions.
“[Lipinski] asked me to attend a fundraiser for him several months ago and I agreed to do so, but I’ve determined that I must cancel my participation in this event,” Bustos said in a statement. “I’m proud to have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and I’m deeply alarmed by the rapidly escalating attacks on women’s access to reproductive care in several states.”
Days later, however, she defended her efforts to protect all House incumbents.
“Everybody has to navigate their own district, and who am I to prescribe how anybody does that?” she said. “I just think, our core values as Democrats, we’re pretty much on the same page. We want to make sure that people have opportunities to do better.”
Sanders’ endorsement comes after several states have adoption varying restrictions on abortions, many of which banned the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected at around six weeks into pregnancy. Alabama went the furthest of all the states by completely banning the procedure unless the mother’s life is at risk.
“This type of legislation is authoritarian and totalitarian. There’s no other way to describe it,” Newman said in an interview with BuzzFeed last week. “Let’s be honest about what it is. It’s taking us back 100 years, and that’s not exaggerating.”
Sanders has frequently mentioned abortion on the campaign trail, saying at a rally last month “this is an issue that impacts all of us.”