U.S. Sen Kristen Gillibrand (N.Y.) is now leading a charge to unseat incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill). This strategy is incredibly misguided at a time when Democrats face a Herculean effort to take back the majority in the U.S. House.
To regain control in the U.S. House, Democrats need to turn 24 congressional districts from red to blue and hang on to four Democratic seats that are considered “toss-ups.”
Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the activist group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who is spearheading the effort, argued that Lipinski “may have a D next to his name ... but he isn’t a Democrat.”
Let’s fact-check that argument. On core traditional Democratic issues, Dan Lipinski has:
- a lifetime voting record of 91 percent with the AFL-CIO
- a lifetime voting record of 96 percent with AFSCME
- a 95 percent voting record with the League of Conservation Voters
- a 100 percent voting record with the National Parks Action Fund
- an A rating with the National Education Association
- a 7 percent rating with the NRA
Lipinski also votes with leadership about 82 percent of the time, and he opposed Republican efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act and is leading a bi-partisan effort to reduce premiums for working families. He has been outspoken about the Republican leadership’s failure to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program which will “put millions of families at risk.” Additionally, he voted against the Republican tax bill citing among other reasons,“it eliminates numerous deductions that middle-class Americans use to make ends meet as they deal with growing expense for healthcare, education, and childcare.”
Taking a closer look at Democratic members who vote less frequently with leadership than Lipinski, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has a worse rating, voting with leadership only 75 percent of the time.Sienema also is much lower than Lipinski with both the AFL-CIO and AFSCME scorecards earning 83 percent and 78 percent respectively.
With the League of Conservation Voters, Sineman early only a 74 percent.But, interestingly, Senator Gillibrand’s PAC is supporting Sinema with a $10,000 donation in the Arizona U.S. Senate race.
If party loyalty and commitment to Democratic values is a benchmark, then Lipinski shows more than Sinema. So Gillibrand is apparently not going to go after all the members who vote against leadership. If she were, then the loyalty test would apply to members such as Sinema. Or does Sinema’s support for abortion allow a mulligan for party disloyalty?
Is Gillibrand encouraging an ideological purity test on abortion, in which every other issue, including the core historical Democratic Party issues that Dan Lipinski supports, is subordinated to that one? In other words, if you don’t oppose abortion, then your views on other issues do not matter, and you should not receive the Democratic Party’s support or endorsement.
The strength of the Democratic Party is its advocacy for diversity and inclusion. Should Gillibrand herself have been targeted for defeat as a member of Congress when she received an “A” rating with the NRA, or voted to oppose New York’s plans to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, or voted in favor of legislation withholding federal funds from immigrant sanctuary cities?
Her “party disloyalty” was not questioned.In fact, she was supported and encouraged to run for the U.S. Senate, where she is currently serving. Like Congresswoman Sinema was she given a pass because of her support for abortion?
It appears as if Gillibrand and the so-called Progressive Change Committee are more interested in ideological purity than in bringing back a Democratic majority.
We need to stop the disastrous assault on our Democratic values: the right of labor to organize, protection of our environment, the education of all our children, the prevention of gun violence, and tax relief for people who need it most. Otherwise, Republicans will continue to win at the expense of the people who need the help the most.
Kristen Day is the executive director of Democrats For Life of America.