Sanders Endorses Pro-Life Democrat's Primary Challenger

Sen. Bernie Sanders / Getty
March 8, 2018

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Thursday endorsed an Illinois Democratic primary challenger attempting to unseat one of the party's lone pro-life legislators.

Sanders endorsed Marie Newman, who is running a spirited campaign to oppose moderate Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.), praising her commitment to abortion rights, universal health care, and LGBTQ equality, amongst other issues, the Chicago-Sun Times reported.

"Marie Newman has made it clear that she will be a champion for working families in Illinois, which is why I am proud to support her campaign," Sanders said in a statement. "Marie will fight for Medicare for All, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and providing workers with benefits such as paid sick leave, while protecting Medicare and Social Security. She will defend women’s rights, LGBT rights and ensure immigrants have a safe path to citizenship."

In a twist of irony, Lipinski was a Sanders supporter during the 2016 presidential election.

The Sanders endorsement comes on the heels of other prominent Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.), and Rep. Louis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.), expressing support for Newman over the incumbent.

Newman responded in a statement, reiterating that she would be the district's "unabashedly progressive champion" and saying she "could not be more proud" to receive Sanders' endorsement.

"I will be the unabashedly progressive champion that women and families across this district and beyond deserve, never compromising on the values they work hard every single day to achieve," said Newman. "I could not be more proud to have the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders who has been the leading champion for working families in our nation."

Lipinski, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition who has represented llinois' 3rd Congressional District since 2005, is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives. He was the only Democrat from Illinois to vote against Obamacare in 2010, has consistently favored restricting abortion after 20 weeks post-conception, and supported the Defense of Marriage Act, all to the chagrin of social progressives. Lipinski also did not endorse fellow Illinoisan Barack Obama for reelection as president in 2012.

In recent months, Lipinski has looked increasingly isolated from the majority of rank and file Democrats. In February, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee refused to endorse his reelection bid. Last Thursday, fellow House Democrat Rep. Rho Khanna (Calif.) rebuked the Illinois lawmaker, comparing his pro-life views to segregation.

On Monday, Lipinski, who up until recently has been quiet about attempts by national Democrats to oust him, said "Democrats have chased people out of the party."

In a somewhat surprising move, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) announced her support for Lipinski's reelection earlier this month.