The key to Congressman Dan Lipinski’s narrow primary victory over Marie Newman in a hard-fought primary for the Democratic nomination in the 3rd Congressional District was Lipinski’s strong performance in the Chicago portion of the district, which stretches from the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago southwest to near Joliet.
Lipinski (D-Western Springs) edged Newman by only 2,202 votes, winning 51 percent of the vote to Newman’s 49 percent.
Lipinski built a margin of 5,041 votes in the Chicago portion of the district, which Newman couldn’t quite overcome despite her strong showing in the suburbs. Lipinski’s best performance came in Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s 13th Ward.
The incumbent won the 13th Ward by 2,624 votes, more his overall margin of victory in the race.
Lipinski also ran strongly on his former home turf of the 23rd Ward, where his father was once the alderman capturing 59.53 percent vote of the vote.
“I think I did better in the city, because I received more support from working class people,” Lipinski told the Landmark. “The men and women who really need the support of the Democratic Party, the people who are constantly targeted by the Republican Party, especially the Republican Party anti-union positions.”
Newman said Lipinski’s strong showing in the city wards showed the power of the Democratic machine.
“That’s just the machine” Newman said. “Lipinski is the machine [and] the machine is Lipinski, so, of course, I wouldn’t do well in those wards.”
Newman, who claimed that Lipinski was too conservative for the district, won big in the five Brookfield precincts of the 3rd District, capturing 65 percent of the vote in the southern portion of Brookfield.
In the entire suburban Cook County portion of the district, Newman had a slight edge winning 51.65 percent of the vote there.
The race was, by far, the closest of Lipinski’s political career, which began in 2004. It drew national attention and attracted big money from national interest groups.
Lipinski is one of only four anti-abortion Democrats in the House. Newman and outside groups claimed that Lipinski was hostile to gay rights and said that he was anti-immigrant.
Newman was endorsed by a host of activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the SEIU, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Move On. The coalition of outside groups spent more than $1.6 million to support Newman’s campaign, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“This should be a wake-up call to Dan Lipinski,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice-President for Policy and Political Affairs Jo Dee Winteroff in a press release. “Now, our task is to continue holding him accountable.”
Lipinski also received outside help. During the weekend before the primary the anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony List, spent about $120,000 to send 70 canvassers to knock on the doors of 17,000 pro-life Democrats and to pay for digital ads. Overall it is estimated that about $1.1 million was spent by outside groups helping Lipinski.
In the November general election, Lipinski will face Art Jones, a perennial candidate who has views that have been characterized as neo-Nazi. Jones received 20,339 votes running unopposed in the Republican primary. Jones’s candidacy has been disavowed by state Republican leaders. The district is considered by political observers a safe Democratic seat.
Lipinski said that he has not yet decided whether he will debate Jones.
“I think it’s unfortunate that he has received as much publicity as he has, the national publicity especially,” Lipinski said. “I think that giving his views less air time, less print is better, but we’ll see as we move to the November election what exactly we’re going to do with that.”