Democrat Lipinski’s primary enemies coming from his left

Mark Pera, an assistant Cook County state’s attorney in Illinois, is running hard against Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and has enlisted some serious party heavyweights to help him unseat the congressman.

Curiously enough, all those heavyweights traditionally have been aligned with Lipinski’s party.

ADVERTISEMENT
NARAL Pro-Choice America last week endorsed Pera in this Democratic primary, making Lipinski the only Democrat on its target list so far. And a number of other groups, including pro-stem cell research groups, are joining in to help Pera unseat a congressman that many in the reliably Democratic district say is a Democrat in name only.

Pera has put up impressive fundraising numbers and said Tuesday he expects a stellar third quarter due to the efforts of the netroots. As The Hill reported this week, Pera raised $55,000 on ActBlue, hauling in $30,000 during the last week of the quarter.

Pera can add to that about $2,500 that NARAL’s political action committee contributed Friday when the group endorsed his bid.

NARAL political director Elizabeth Shipp said Pera approached her group earlier this year after making the decision to run.

While Shipp said the group is excited about going to work to help elect Pera, its target is Lipinski.

“We’re certainly going to take him on,” Shipp said of Lipinski.

In 2006, Shipp said NARAL had about 1,000 members on the ground in the district. This time around, she said it has about 2,500 members, supporters and activists ready to go to work.

“We’re starting to ramp up there,” she said.

As it did in 2006, NARAL is looking to focus on micro-targeting to sway pro-abortion rights voters in districts where they can swing an election.

The difference between Lipinski’s district and others the group targets, Shipp said, is that this time it will focus on pro-abortion rights Democratic voters instead of pro-abortion rights Republican and independent voters.

In that district, pro-abortion rights Democratic female voters come to about 47,000 households NARAL will be looking to “educate.”

Shipp said the endorsement and financial contribution were first steps. Organization members will soon go out in the field with a poll to identify voters they might be able to sway.

The congressman is opposed to abortion rights, and his critics, including Pera, said he “sits with the Democrats, but he consistently votes with George Bush on the issues.”

Pera describes himself as a pro-abortion rights, pro-stem cell research Democrat who is in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

He will start to try to inform voters in the district about these differences when he goes on TV — if all goes as planned, by the end of this month.

Pera declined to talk specifically about some of the groups supporting his candidacy, except to say, “people in general are angry.”

Despite the home-equity loan he and his wife took out to get their campaign rolling, Pera said his fundraising has been strong, and he “will have more than enough money to get our message out.”

A spokesman for Lipinski said the congressman is “just focused on doing the work for the people of the third district.”

In 2006, Lipinski took just more than half the Democratic primary vote, but his opposition was evenly split between two candidates, financial planner John Kelly and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney John Sullivan, who took 25 and 20 percent, respectively.