By Bob Skolnik
In early 2017 Marie Newman announced that she would challenge entrenched incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) in the 3rd District.
The next year, Newman narrowly lost a bitter primary fight with Lipinski but stayed active and never lost sight of her goal
In March, she narrowly defeated Lipinski in the Democratic primary and now Newman is headed to Congress after defeating Republican Mike Fricilone on Nov. 3 to become the first woman to ever represent Illinois's 3rd Congressional District.
"I've been on the ground every single day for three and a half years," Newman told the Landmark on Wednesday.
Unofficially, Newman received 54.5 percent of the vote (143,728 votes) to 45.5 percent (120,168) for Fricilone, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
The 3rd Congressional District stretches from the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago southwest to near Joliet and includes the southern portion of Brookfield.
While early returns immediately after Election Day showed Fricilone narrowly outpacing Newman in suburban Cook County, as mail-in ballots were tallied they shifted the result Newman's way. Unofficially, Newman won the Cook County suburbs with 51.45 percent of the vote.
But Newman easily carried the district due to her performance in the city. Chicago precincts came in at nearly 66 percent for Newman.
Newman had to change her campaign style in the pandemic and could not do much of the in-person campaigning at which she excels.
A 56-year-old businesswoman and activist from LaGrange, Newman received strong support from activist groups such as Indivisible Brookfield, which was one of the first groups to endorse her back in 2017. A number of local activists from Brookfield and Riverside volunteered for the Newman campaign.
In a Facebook Live speech on Tuesday night Newman thanked all the progressive groups that supported her along with the rest of her supporters.
"This has been quite a journey as you know, and I'm deeply proud of the coalition we've have built." Newman said. "You've knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors, you've made hundreds of thousands of calls, I couldn't be prouder of that, and you did it all the while during a global pandemic and you got our message to every part of the district."
She also thanked Fricilone for stepping up to run against and defeating extremist Art Jones in the primary. Jones, who has a neo-Nazi past, was the Republican candidate in 2018 against Lipinski after no one else filed to run in the Republican primary.
"I would like to recognize my opponent, Mike Fricilone, for running a very passionate race and for stepping up to prove that every single one of us in the 3rd District stands against Art Jones and his hate," Newman said Tuesday night.
Newman said that in Congress she would focus on pandemic relief, rebuilding the economy, fighting climate change and insuring health care for all.
Fricilone, a member of the Will County Board from Mokena, said he thought that he lost because he didn't have enough money to get his message out.
According to federal campaign disclosure records, Newman raised about $2.8 million through Oct 14, although she spent most of that money in her expensive primary race against Lipinski.
Fricilone raised $98,970.99 -- $23,000 of which was a personal loan he made to his campaign.
"The race came down to money," Fricilone said. "My opponent probably outspent me 10 to 1, and had I had half of the money that she had, I would have been able to get the message out pretty much about what she was."
Fricilone could not persuade the National Republican Congressional Committee to back his campaign. On Wednesday, Fricilone rued that lack of support.
"Had they done their due diligence and participated, it would have been a different outcome," Fricilone said.
Throughout the campaign, Fricilone portrayed Newman as a member of the most left-wing part of the Democratic Party and not a good fit for the 3rd District.
"I think a lot of regular Democrats are going to be really surprised when they see my opponent standing with AOC and the Squad and pitching all of those extremist views that that group has, Fricilone said, referring to the GOP's go-to symbol of the Democratic left, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Newman, who has been an anti-bullying activist, said that the time for name calling is over.
"As we all know, we learn at an early age that name calling, bullying and fear-mongering is not helpful at all," Newman said. "Working hard and producing solutions that actually work [are] very helpful, so I'm super excited that I have my solutions in writing, always have. I'm accountable to them and this district is ready to work with me."