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To Fend Off Progressive Primary Challenger Marie Newman, Anti-Choice Group Throws Big Money at Blue Dog Democrat

With endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gloria Steinem, and reproductive rights advocates, Newman aims to defeat anti-choice incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois

Dan and Marie

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and primary challenger Marie Newman attend a League of Women Voters candidate forum at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois on Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

Now that progressive primary challenger Marie Newman is "within striking distance" of ousting Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois's 3rd District, a right-wing group that typically backs Republicans has made a "six-figure investment" in a "last-minute push" to bolster the anti-choice incumbent.

Ahead of the primary vote on Tuesday March 20, the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List has dispatched 70 canvassers and spent thousands of dollars on digital advertisments and a mail campaign for Lipinski, McClatchy reported Thursday. "The group has also helped the incumbent Democrat raise $40,000 this cycle, an SBA List official said, and $80,000 since 2012."

In a Bold Progressives fundraising email for Newman, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue called Lipinski "one of the worst Democrats in Congress," pointing out that he "has repeatedly let his solidly blue district of constituents down by voting to restrict abortion 52 times. Even in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman's life is in danger."

Lipinski is co-chair (pdf) of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and the Democratic Party's centrist Blue Dog Coalition. In addition to his opposition to constitutionally guaranteed reproductive rights, Lipinksi also voted against the 2010 DREAM Act as well as the final version of the Affordable Care Act, and has been heavily criticized for his spotty record on LGBTQ rights.

He's also come under fire from local labor leaders, with SEIU Illinois state council president Tom Balanoff declaring earlier this month that "Lipinski's refusal to support a $15 minimum wage for working people shows how deeply out of touch he is with the working families of his district."

By contrast, Newman—one of the many progressive primary candidates working to push the party left—is not only an advocate of reproductive rights, but according to her campaign platform, she also supports moving toward "Healthcare-For-All solutions"; fighting to reverse the Citizens United decision; measures to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination; enhanced gun safety; and efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions to address the climate crisis.

As the Chicago Tribune noted, Newman has won the support of high-profile groups such as EMILY's List, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, MoveOn.org, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. She has also garnered the backing of feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

Illinois's 3rd District, which encompasses part of the Southwest Side of Chicago as well as surrounding suburbs, is historically a blue district and the lone GOP candidate—Holocaust-denying white supremacist Arthur "Art" Jones—is not expected to pose a serious challenge to whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

Public Policy Polling results published two weeks ago showed the pair of Democrats "in a statistical dead heat."

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