Progressive groups back challenger to Illinois Dem
A group of progressive and women’s rights groups are backing a primary challenger to Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), providing a swing of momentum against one of the few anti-abortion rights Democrats left in the House.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn.org, Human Rights Campaign, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America have decided to back Marie Newman, a former advertising consultant and anti-bullying nonprofit head, in her bid to unseat Lipinski.
The progressive groups criticized Lipinski’s record on abortion, same-sex marriage and immigration in their statements, which were provided exclusively to The Hill ahead of Tuesday’s official endorsement.
“Time is up for Congressman Lipinski. For too long, Dan Lipinski has ignored the needs of working families across Illinois, by pushing his fringe ideological agenda at the expense of women and families across the state,” Ilyse Hogue, NARAL’s president, said in a statement.
“In contrast, Marie Newman holds equality and self-determination as non-negotiable and will fight for all of our rights, including our reproductive freedom. NARAL members are proud to stand with Marie Newman as she fights to give Illinois families a voice in Congress,” she said.
Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, blasted Lipinski by arguing that while he “may have a D next to his name … he isn’t a Democrat.”
Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America’s executive director, argued that Lipinski’s “right-wing ideology is profoundly out of step with a twenty-first century Democratic Party.” MoveOn.org’s Matt Blizek called Lipinski “one of the worst Democrats in Congress.” And the Human Rights Campaign’s JoDee Winterhof said that the district needs “new leadership and someone who will fight for full LGBTQ equality in Congress.”
In her own statement, Newman promised to fight for a “better, more inclusive, fairer system of government that supports the rights and opportunities of all people.”
The endorsements come less than two weeks after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced her own support for Newman. Newman also won the endorsement of the progressive blog Daily Kos over the summer.
The battle over Lipinski’s seat threatens one of the few remaining anti-abortion rights Democrats in Congress. Lipinski, one of only two Democratic members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, was one of three members of the party this year who voted for a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks.
Progressives have also criticized Lipinski for other policy positions, such as support of a religious liberty bill that opponents believe would allow for discrimination against same-sex couples.
The endorsements could provide Newman a fundraising boost, which she will need to have a chance to take on the well-funded incumbent. As of the end of September, Lipinski had $1.5 million banked away in his campaign account, while Newman had $97,600.
Lipinski has been up front and vocal about his pro-life leanings, and his constituents have sent him back to Washington every election since he first won his seat in 2004.
The congressman has argued that anti-abortion lawmakers serve a valuable purpose in the Democratic Party, allowing a shot to win more conservative districts. That’s the stance shared by Democratic leaders who have argued for a big-tent and raised concerns that an “abortion litmus test” could hurt the Democratic push to take the House majority.
But progressives have opposed that strategy, arguing that the party has an obligation to its voters to embrace the values it laid out in its platform and stand up for abortion rights.
The Illinois congressional seat is likely to stay in Democratic hands regardless of who wins the primary — 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won the district by 15 points.
—This story was updated at 12:50 p.m.