CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats, narrowly won the Democratic primary election Tuesday night for Illinois’ 3rd District. Lipinski’s challenger, NARAL-backed Marie Newman, made her opposition to Lipinski’s pro-life views a central part of her campaign.
While media outlets called the race for Lipinski several hours after polls closed March 20, Newman initially refused to concede, even going as far to say that she hoped her opponent had a “very painful evening.” On Wednesday morning, however, Newman posted a message on her Facebook page acknowledging that she had lost the election and that she would continue to press Lipinski further to the left.
“Since we started our campaign, Dan Lipinski has moved his position on health care, a path to citizenship and the need for a fair minimum wage. We put him on notice that we expect better for all of the people in our district,” said Newman.
“I plan on continuing to hold him accountable so that every person in our district has access, opportunity and equal rights.”
The race was notable for the amount of outside money spent for a primary for a sitting member of Congress in an extremely safe Democratic seat. An estimated $2.5 million was spent on various campaign ads and mailings, with about two-thirds of that money supporting Newman’s campaign. Lipinski was hammered in attack ads for his opposition to Obamacare, as well as his support of pro-life legislation and for defunding Planned Parenthood.
Despite Lipinski’s moderate tendencies, Democrats for Life of America Executive Director Kristen Day took issue with the claim that he was a “conservative” or a “bad” Democrat. In a published statement, Day said that Lipinski’s victory was a “win for the Big Tent Democratic Party” and that the race was an effort to expunge pro-life Democrats from the party.
“His [voting] record says otherwise, with an 88% party-loyalty rating and solid lifetime records with labor, education and environmental groups,” said Day.
“The race was not about Dan’s record on traditional Democratic values. It was, plain and simple, about abortion and an effort to ‘purify’ the Democratic Party of pro-life voices.”
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said March 21, “We are thrilled with Congressman Lipinski’s victory over Marie Newman and the abortion industry, which is increasingly pushing the Democratic Party left on abortion. Dan Lipinski is a pro-life hero of legendary courage and integrity. … It was an honor and a privilege for our team to support him, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in Congress.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee initially declined to endorse Lipinski, but changed their minds about two weeks ago. House Democrats announced Wednesday after the race was called that Lipinski had their full support for the general election.
Lipinski was first elected to Congress in 2004, after his father retired from the seat. This election was his most significant primary challenge.
He is expected to win the general election in November by a wide margin.