The national campaign arm for congressional Democrats has been reticent to endorse a pro-life incumbent in Illinois, and other members are worrying about the party moving in a more progressive direction.
Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinksi, who represents a predominantly liberal area of Chicago’s suburbs, faces a more progressive primary challenger whose garnered endorsements from numerous liberal groups.
Moderate Blue Dog caucus members are starting to worry the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee [DCCC] is abandoning candidates who don’t fall in with the most progressive positions.
“Democrats have to know that they’re going to have the full support [of the DCCC] even if they’re not straight in the party line,” Lipinski told Politico. “And we need candidates who are not straight along the party line to win the districts we need for the majority.”
Lipinksi has even juxtaposed what’s happening in his race against first-time candidate Marie Newman — a liberal activist and former marketing professional — and the rise of the Tea Party in 2010.
“[Newman] claims they’re going to sit down and magically make it happen,” Lipinski said at a forum for candidates Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. “Look, the Freedom Caucus is a major problem. The tea party is a major problem. Having a tea party of the left that makes promises about what’s going to magically happen — it’s not going to work. It’s a fantasy.”
Blue Dog caucus members say the DCCC promised to support Lipinski, but an official endorsement has not come. Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Jim Costa of California pushed DCCC chairman Ben Ray Luján about an endorsing Lipinksi in January.
“We would be disappointed” if the DCCC never made that endorsement, Cuellar told Politico. “Especially when I personally spoke to the chairman, and the chairman told me ‘we will be supporting the incumbent.'”
The DCCC claims it never promised an endorsement at that dinner. A week later, Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowski and Luis Gutierrez made the unusual move to endorse Newman over incumbent Lipinski.
Their Newman endorsement followed the support from pro-abortion group NARAL and other progressive organizations that have rallied around the former activist. Newman hammered Lipinski for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, for his support of Little Sisters of the Poor in their fight against paying for contraceptive coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act, and other issues.
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Lipinski may have nothing to worry about since he’s held the seat since 2005 and his father held it before him. “I don’t think what the DCCC does or says means a lot for my race as much as sending a signal to other Democrats who are looking to run,” Lipinski told Politico.
Democrats do not fear losing the seat if the incumbent Lipinski doesn’t receive the party nomination. The only Republican candidate in the race, Art Jones, has been written off for holding extreme neo-Nazi views. Jones attended a 2017 Kentucky event where he apologized for supporting President Donald Trump, who he said “surrounded himself with hordes of Jews including a Jew in his own family — that punk named Jared Kushner.”
“This has nothing to do with going after people who differ in positions from me around the country,” Schakowsky told Politico. “This is a particular race in this district, in my state. I’m not on a crusade to get rid of Blue Dogs by any means. We hopefully will elect more in this election cycle.”
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