After giving Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) the toughest battle of his political life last year, Marie Newman seems to be gearing up for another run at the veteran congressman in 2020.
Last March, Lipinski defeated Newman by just over 2,000 votes in a bitterly contested Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District, which runs from the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago to near Joliet and includes the southern half of Brookfield.
The two candidates are opposites politically and in their personal style, and time has not healed the primary wounds.
Since her primary loss, Newman has volunteered on other Democratic campaigns and resumed working as freelance consultant and marketing advisor.
Now she is traveling around the district meeting people as she decides whether to challenge Lipinski again. On Jan. 23 she spoke to a meeting of the Indivisible West Suburban Action League held at the Riverside Public Library.
“I am doing a formal and methodical exploratory, just like we did last time,” Newman said. “I have about 10 meet-and-greets under my belt right now, we’d like to get 40 or 50 done before say the middle of April and make a decision sometime after that I would say.”
Newman had support from some national progressive and abortion rights groups, and a fired-up band of local supporters, in her challenge of Lipinski, who is anti-abortion and is considered one of the most conservative Democratic members of Congress.
The bitterness of the primary race was apparent on Election Night when Newman refused to concede, telling her supporters that she wanted Lipinski to have “a painful night.” She conceded the next morning with a message on her campaign Facebook page.
“I’m kind of surprised that she would run again after the embarrassing speech, very hateful speech, that she made on Election Night,” Lipinski told the Landmark. “I think a lot of people really saw her for who she is.”
In an interview with the Landmark Newman apologized for that statement and provided more context for the remark.
“It was a very, very, very tough race and you saw my humanity that night,” Newman said. “I feel badly that the audience heard that, and I apologize to the district and the audience.”
Newman was angry saying that Lipinski and his supporters spread lies about her.
Perhaps most hurtful to Newman, whose husband is Jewish, was a text message sent by a Lipinski supporter to a Newman supporter saying that Newman was a Holocaust denier.
The text message, first reported last March by the Oak Lawn Patch, came in an exchange between someone working with the Washington, D.C.-based group No Labels, which supported Lipinski and ran a texting campaign for him.
Lipinski’s general election opponent was neo-Nazi Art Jones, who does deny the Holocaust.
A spokesman for No Labels said the volunteer apparently just confused Newman with Jones.
“Any suggestion that No Labels was pushing this slur about Newman is completely false,” said Ryan Clancy of No Labels.
Lipinski echoed that view.
“There was no reason for anyone to come out and claim that Marie Newman was a Holocaust denier. That’s just wrong,” Lipinski said. “It was a text message. It should have never been sent by that person. I think they got Marie Newman mixed up, probably, with Art Jones who was running as a Republican.”
However, Newman doesn’t buy that explanation saying that other such messages were sent by Lipinski supporters. She said Lipinski and those supporting him falsely attacked her in a number of ways.
“We know he called me anti-Catholic, anti-nun, jailer of nuns,” Newman said. “There were four or five that were provably wrong. And when he was told to stop doing it, he went on doing it.”
The jailing nuns charge was apparently was a reference to Newman’s support for a part of the Affordable Care Act that would require employers to pay for insurance coverage for birth control for their employees.
Lipinski was one of 34 Congressional Democrats who voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, although he now says that he supports the law.
Lipinski said that nothing bitter came from his mouth during the campaign and noted that he faced tough attacks from Newman and her supporters.
“If I took personal offense at every nasty, really horrible things that’s said about me on social media, I couldn’t ever do the job because all I would be is continuously fired up and upset,” Lipinski said.
Newman faulted Lipinski for never taking action to stop what she said were false attacks on her.
“He did not stop his supporters,” Newman said.