Progressive challenger Marie Newman defeated incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski in the primary for Illinois' 3rd congressional district on Tuesday, ousting the most right-wing Democrat in the House whose eight terms saw him consistently oppose reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, healthcare expansion, and higher wages for workers.
"I am bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition that helped bring about much needed change in our district," Newman tweeted after she was declared the winner by a close margin. "We are going to work together to lower healthcare costs, to fight climate change, and to build an economy that works for everyone."
"Marie Newman's victory is the culmination of years of work to unseat an entrenched incumbent, and proves that voters across the country are in no mind to stand by as their elected officials throw women and families under the bus."
—Ilyse Hogue, NARAL
Newman, who came up just short of defeating Lipinski in 2018, was backed by a diverse array of progressive advocacy groups and members of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Newman has voiced support for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and other big-ticket items on the progressive agenda.
"This is a critical victory for the progressive movement in showing that voters are ready for a new generation of progressive leadership in the Democratic Party," Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement Tuesday night. "This isn't just a loss for one incumbent. It's a defeat for machine politics and big corporate donors who want to stop our movement for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and reproductive rights."
Progressives rallied around Newman after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) last year implemented its blacklist policy of cutting off party funds to vendors and consultants who work with primary challengers—a policy progressives condemned as an effort to protect corporate-friendly conservative Democrats facing insurgent challengers.
Some predicted the policy would backfire, and that appears to be exactly what happened on Tuesday.
— Sarah Audelo (@SarahAudelo) March 18, 2020
— BoldProgressives.org (@BoldProgressive) March 18, 2020
"The voters of Illinois' 3rd congressional district have spoken loud and clear, rejecting Rep. Dan Lipinski's anti-choice, anti-equality, and anti-worker agenda," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "They have a champion in Marie Newman and soon will have a representative in Congress who shares their values and priorities."
"Marie Newman's victory is the culmination of years of work to unseat an entrenched incumbent," Hogue said, "and proves that voters across the country are in no mind to stand by as their elected officials throw women and families under the bus."
The primary came at a perilous moment for Illinois and the U.S. as a whole as the nation attempts to combat the worsening coronavirus crisis, which led Ohio, Georgia, and Maryland to postpone their presidential primaries over concerns for public health.
"Numerous polling places in Illinois shut down Tuesday," The Intercept reported, "while others lacked necessary voting and sanitizing supplies, resulting in hours-long delays."
Given federal recommendations against gatherings of more than 10 people to prevent the spread of COVID-19, observers were appalled by conditions at polling sites across Illinois, where voters at some locations—including uniquely vulnerable elderly people—were huddled in crowded rooms for hours waiting to cast their ballots.
An elderly voter in Illinois here saying she left a Chicago precinct because it was crowded and she grew nervous that she was at risk of #COVID19 exposure. This was always a possible, maybe inevitable, scenario playing out in these 3 states (FL, IL, AZ) holding primaries today. https://t.co/gBn4lEuq0U
— Daniel Medina (@dmedin11) March 17, 2020
"Holding primary elections in the middle of a pandemic is absolutely criminal," tweeted The Intercept's Aída Chávez.