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By Bob Skolnik
Both incumbent Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman rolled out endorsements last week in the hotly contested 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary.
In something of a surprise, Newman picked up endorsements from two of Lipinski's congressional colleagues in the Illinois delegation -- Luis Gutierrez (D-4th) and Jan Schakowsky (D-9th District), at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
Gutierrez represents almost all of Riverside and nearly all of the northern half of Brookfield.
"It is not easy to endorse a challenger over a colleague in the House of Representatives, especially when that colleague is a member of your own party," Gutierrez was quoted as saying in a published report in the Roll Call Newspaper.
Gutierrez and Schakowsky are both members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and are two of the most liberal members of the Illinois delegation. Lipinski, meanwhile, is one of the most conservative Democratic members of the House.
Both Gutierrez and Schakowsky have differed with Lipinski on issues ranging from abortion to immigration and same-sex marriage.
Gutierrez said that Lipinski is too conservative for the current Democratic Party.
"The nation has moved forward," Gutierrez said. "He would have been all right for Congress in 1996. I want to define myself with Marie Newman, and I hope the Democratic Party does, too."
Schakowsky said Newman would better represent the views of voters in the 3rd District.
"The people of Illinois' 3rd District want a pro-health care, pro-immigrant, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ member of Congress to represent them in Washington," Schakowsky said.
Last week, Newman also picked up endorsements from a number of female Democratic state legislators, including state senators Toi Hutchinson and Heather Steans and state representatives Theresa Mah, Sara Feigenholtz, Ann Williams and Laura Fine.
But while Newman has been picking up endorsements from out of state and out of district Democrats, Lipinski countered with endorsements from of 30 mayors and village presidents of towns in the 3rd District including Bridgeview Mayor and State Sen. Steve Landek, McCook Mayor and Cook County Board Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski and Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.
"Dan has been a fixture in our community," Getty was quoted as saying in a press release put out by the Lipinski campaign. "From attending Fourth of July parades to Cops Night Out events, he always takes the time to meet our residents and listen."
Lipinski, who succeeded his powerful father, Bill Lipinski, in Congress in 2004, thanked the mayors for their support.
"I cooperate closely with local officials because they understand the needs of their communities," Lipinski was quoted as saying in the press release. "In my capacity as a representative, I have been very happy to help them build better places for residents to live, work, and raise their families."
State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) is also backing Lipinski. Both Zalewski and Lipinski grew up in the 23rd Ward on the Southwest Side of Chicago and the two families have been politically aligned for a long time.
Bill Lipinski was the alderman for the 23rd Ward before being elected to Congress in 1992. Zalewski's father, also named Michael, has been the alderman of the 23rd Ward since 1995.
"Dan and I have had a long, close relationship through the years," said Zalewski, who also serves as the Riverside Township Democratic Committeeman. "I don't live in the 3rd Congressional District … but I'm with Dan despite the primary challenge."
Lipinski has also has a lot of union support and has been endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Transportation Division of the National Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers and the Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Lipinski is a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.