Chicago Newspapers Split on Democratic Primary in Illinois’ Third District

Congressman Daniel Lipinski arrives at the Chicago Ridge Metra commuter train station before campaigning for re-election in Chicago Ridge, Illinois, January 25, 2018. (Kamil Krzacznski/Reuters)

Next month, U.S. representative Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) will face a progressive challenger, Marie Newman, in the Democratic primary in Illinois’ third congressional district, which encompasses a large section of Chicago’s southwestern suburbs. Newman attempted to unseat Lipinski last election cycle and came very close to doing so, falling behind by only about 2 percent, or 2,000 votes.

Newman’s campaign in 2018 was backed in large part by left-wing activist groups, which were frustrated primarily with Lipinski’s continual refusal to support legal abortion. Since taking over his father’s congressional seat in 2005, Lipinski has remained one of the few Democratic politicians who espouses pro-life views and votes according to them. Though his progressive opponents refer to Lipinski as a “conservative,” the truth is he’s plenty liberal — but he’s not a liberal in the modern social-justice–activism mold, focusing instead on the policies that matter to blue-collar, working-class voters in his district. And, most abhorrent to today’s Left, he simply won’t cave on abortion.

The last time Lipinski faced Newman, he received endorsements from both of Chicago’s newspapers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times. This cycle, he has retained the support of only one of them. “Seeking his ninth term, Lipinski has been in sync with the district for a long time,” the Chicago Tribune editorial board writes, noting the congressman’s concerns about the divisive effects of radical progressivism on the Democratic Party. Newman, on the other hand, supports Obamcare “but ultimately sees Medicare for All as the best option” and favors the ultra-expensive Green New Deal.

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“We’re concerned that such massive government spending programs are unworkable and unaffordable,” the Tribune concludes. “Lipinski’s outlook, which includes participation in the House bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is both more moderate and realistic. Lipinski is endorsed.”

The editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times, however, has changed its mind about what’s best for the third district. In 2018, the paper wrote of its Lipinski endorsement, “His more conservative views on social issues — including his opposition to a woman’s right to have an abortion — [are] not necessarily out of step with his heavily blue-collar, Southwest Side and suburban district.”

Endorsing Newman this cycle, the board writes, “We endorsed Lipinski over Newman in 2018 in part because we thought his more conservative views fit best in this traditionally white ethnic district. We’re no longer so sure. The district’s demographics have changed in the last couple of decades; it is now at least one-third Hispanic.”

“Newman favors Medicare for all, which we do not. But she’s pragmatic enough to know it can’t happen tomorrow,” the Sun-Times adds, noting that Newman favors abortion rights while Lipinski does not. “At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision protecting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, that difference in views could be enormously consequential.”

While there’s little way to predict next month’s results, it’s worth noting that the Sun-Times’ gesture toward Hispanic voters in Lipinski’s district, paired with the paper’s concern about his views on abortion, makes little sense. Of all demographic groups that traditionally support Democrats, Hispanics are the most opposed to abortion, and surely a great deal of the Hispanic residents in the district were living there during the last primary, too. Perhaps some of them will end up supporting Newman, but it’s likely that many will gravitate to Lipinski’s more moderate Democratic platform, as they did last time.

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