Two House Dems Back Challenger to Incumbent Pro-Life Dem

Dan Lipinski / Facebook
January 17, 2018

Two Democratic House members are endorsing a primary challenger trying to unseat Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.), one of the only pro-life House Democrats.

Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez on Wednesday endorsed Marie Newman, a marketing consultant vying to defeat Lipinski in the upcoming March 20 primary, the Hill reported.

The winner of the primary is expected to win the solidly blue House seat in November's general election, according to the Hill.

Newman and the two lawmakers will hold a press conference on Capitol Hill on the endorsements Wednesday afternoon. The endorsements were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Progressives have been targeting Lipinski—a staunch anti-abortion lawmaker—and have sought to boost Newman's candidacy in the Chicago-area district.

Those groups have targeted the congressman's voting record which includes voting against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and voting to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood. He was also one of only six House Democrats who voted in 2013 for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Schakowsky and Gutierrez's support comes after Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), a potential presidential candidate in 2020, endorsed Newman in November.

Schakowsky slammed Lipinski in a statement, saying that he does not "reflect" the values that she cares about.

"The people of Illinois' third district want a pro-health care, pro-immigrant, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ member of Congress to represent them in Washington. Unfortunately, the current member does not reflect those values, which is why I am endorsing Marie Newman for Congress," Schakowsky said. "Marie Newman is a bold progressive with real experience fighting bullies, just like the one in the White House. We need more women like Marie Newman in Congress."

Gutierrez also criticized Lipinski and said that he has not always made it his "mission" to put the best interests of "hardworking Illinois families" first.

"As public servants, our top priority is to put the best interests of the hardworking Illinois families we represent first. Unfortunately, Dan Lipinski has not always made that his mission," Gutierrez said. "That's why I'm proud to endorse Marie Newman in her bid to represent Illinois' third district. Marie will fight for the reproductive freedom of all Illinois families, protect immigrants and our Dreamers, and fight to give all hardworking families their best shot."

Newman has also received endorsements from the Daily Kos, a liberal blog, and national women's right groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Progressives have been targeting Lipinski—a staunch pro-life lawmaker—for years after he voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and to freeze funding for Planned Parenthood. He was also one of only six House Democrats to support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in 2013.

"For too long Dan Lipinski has let his own self-interests blur his vision, putting his own extreme ideologies ahead of the wellbeing of the hardworking Illinois families he represents. But right now is the time for change," Newman said in a statement.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), the Democratic National Committee's deputy chairman, faced criticism back in April from NARAL and the Daily Kos for embracing Heath Mello, a pro-life Democrat running for mayor in Omaha, Nebraska.

NARAL president Ilyse Hogue published a press release at the time in which she called the DNC's endorsement of Mello  "disappointing" and "politically stupid"

"If Democrats think the path forward following the 2016 election is to support candidates who substitute their own judgement and ideology for that of their female constituents, they have learned all the wrong lessons and are bound to lose," Hogue wrote. "It's not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children."

Gutierrez and Gillibrand have been floated as potential 2020 presidential candidates, and may be positioning themselves to appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as they mull whether to launch White House bids.