News of a primary victory by an incumbent Democrat in Illinois hardly rates a BREAKING tag. A victory this narrow and this belated by Dan Lipinski certainly rates a mention, however, especially given the enemies Lipinski faced. Despite a concerted effort by NARAL, Emily’s List, and other progressive groups, one of the few pro-life Democrats still left in Congress will advance to the general election after nearly being declared politically dead last night:
Rep. Dan Lipinski, a centrist, anti-abortion rights Democrat, survived a progressive primary challenge from Marie Newman on Tuesday for his Chicago-area House seat, CNN projects.
Lipinski was ahead of Newman 51% to 49% with 98% of precincts’ tallies reported, according to Edison Research. That puts his lead at about 2,124 votes.
His win comes despite an intense effort by pro-abortion rights and women’s groups — including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List — to purge the party of the anti-abortion lawmaker in a reliably Democratic district.
Make no mistake about it, either. Pro-abortion groups had wanted Lipiniski gone, and they almost got their wish. Instead, their candidate ended up eating her words from last night:
Marie Newman not conceding. Encourages crowd to drink at Marie’s in Bridgeport. “I would like to make Mr. Lipinski to have a very painful evening.” Says wait until a.m. pic.twitter.com/UCp29nOIhu
— Mark Guarino (@markguarino) March 21, 2018
Lipinski will likely win the general election race, as the GOP hasn’t won in IL-03 since 1972. (It’s been over 60 years since they won consecutive elections for this seat.) A better question about electability might have been posed about Newman. IL-03 only has a D+6 Cook rating, although Hillary Clinton did beat Donald Trump in the 2016 election by 15 points in the district. Nominating a hard-line progressive and an abortion-on-demand hardliner might have put the district at risk in a cycle where Democrats need pickups rather than purity.
Democrats may have dodged a bullet in this race, which prompts the question as to why it took so long for their committees to come to Lipinski’s aid. Challenging Lipinski appears in retrospect to be a very stupid idea. Lipiniski won three consecutive elections in the district as it’s currently configured, and eight straight overall. His father Bill held the seat for the six terms prior to that. He’s about as solid as they come and perhaps the kind of Democrat that the party should be recruiting to win back seats they lost when Democrats took a sharp left turn in 2009-10.
Rather than go out of their way to make centrists and pro-lifers feel comfortable, though, Democrats’ main constituencies are targeting them in a purity drive. They want pro-life liberals to have “very painful evenings” rather than expand their coalition to succeed on other parts of their largely shared agenda. Perhaps Donald Trump will prove unpopular enough for the Left to succeed in the midterms even while rejecting large swaths of the electorate, but even if they do, it won’t last long enough for them to actually achieve anything — and it might make things even worse in Senate races this time around, which look bad enough for Democrats as it is.
Anyway, for now congratulations are in order for Lipinski, who stuck to his pro-life principles and prevailed. This time.