- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Democrat Marie Newman announced Tuesday that she will launch a primary challenge to pro-life Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois in 2020, testing again whether there’s room in the party for someone who doesn’t toe the left-wing line on abortion.

Ms. Newman came within about 2,000 votes of ousting Mr. Lipinski last year, and the rematch is instantly one of the marquee races of the upcoming primary season.

Liberal activists also are hoping to recruit a pro-choice primary challenger against Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas, and activists say there could be other opportunities to oust lawmakers who, while pro-choice, aren’t on board with other parts of the progressive agenda espoused by new stars such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Yet Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory in 2018 over a 20-year Democratic incumbent could be tougher to achieve next year, after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will refuse to work with any consultants who take on primary challengers as clients.

That could sap some of the momentum from the likes of Ms. Newman, who last time around used a firm that has done business with the DCCC.

Mr. Lipinski, one of four pro-life House Democrats, had been anticipating the rematch.

He defended his record Tuesday, portraying himself as a good legislator rather than “an ineffective show horse.”

“I have been a common sense Democratic leader who has brought people together to solve problems,” Mr. Lipinski said. “Whether it has been helping grow good jobs, improving local transportation, protecting our health by protecting our environment, making health care and education more affordable, or making our communities safer, I have been a workhorse who has gotten the job done.”

Ms. Newman, in her announcement, accused Mr. Lipinski of embracing corporate special interests, reminding voters he opposed Obamacare.

“We deserve a representative who will vote like a real Democrat in Congress — not someone who routinely sides with Trump and conservative interest groups over his own constituents,” Ms. Newman said.

Pro-life Democrats said they are frustrated that activists are so intent on taking out a strong incumbent in a safe Democratic district.

“Why are we messing with it? Why are we once again spending all this money to defeat a solid Democrat,” asked Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America.

Ms. Day said Mr. Lipinski stands for traditional Democratic values, has been a warrior for working men and women and for labor unions, and has been a champion on education and the environment.

“They are trying to make him out to be a right-wing Democrat,” she said. “But when you look at these issues that used to matter more than abortion, he is rock solid when it comes to being a Democrat.”

Ms. Newman’s last bid fell a little more than 2,100 votes shy of defeating Mr. Lipinski in what turned into a nasty contest.

Ms. Newman received strong support from women’s rights and pro-choice groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and EMILY’s List.

Mr. Lipinski, meanwhile, had the support of the Chicago political machine, centrists and pro-life voters, as well as the group “No Labels.”

Each side blamed the other for making the race about abortion — and Ms. Newman, in an interview with Politico after her loss last year, said Mr. Lipinski’s supporters hit below the belt with text messages accusing her of running an abortion clinic or wanting to put the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor out of business.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide