Crowded Democratic field in 3rd District Congressional race

Four candidates file for the March 17 primary

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

The rematch between Congressman Dan Lipinski and Marie Newman in the upcoming Democratic primary is more complicated this time around. In 2018, Newman nearly beat Lipinski in a head-to-head contest, ultimately losing by a little more than 2,000 votes after a hard-fought campaign marked by sharp ideological differences and harsh attacks. 

This time, though, two other candidates, in addition to Lipinski and Newman, have filed to run in the March 17 Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes the southern portion of Brookfield.

The more formidable of the two newcomers appears to be Rush Darwish, owner of a small multimedia video production company and a former television news and sports anchor. The other candidate who filed nominating petitions is Charles Hughes, a former precinct captain from the Southwest Side of Chicago.

Darwish is waging a serious campaign and raised just over $425,000 by Sept. 30. Darwish, who says he is running to represent the middle class, has also loaned his campaign $80,000.

"My belief is that Dan Lipinski and Marie Newman come from a class of wealth. It's just a fact, and I think that's the biggest problem we have right now in Washington D.C.," Darwish said. "I think the time has come for a middle-class person like myself to help serve the middle-class people of Illinois District 3."

Darwish, 42, grew up in Stone Park and Bensenville, and now lives in Palos Hills. He is seeking to become the first Palestinian American congressman from Illinois. He is the son of Palestinian immigrants who once ran a sports apparel store in the North Riverside Mall. Darwish worked as a television news anchor in Kearney, Nebraska and as sports reporter and anchor in Tyler, Texas before moving back to the Chicago area in 2006.

He is running an energetic campaign. On Dec. 1 he ran 31 miles from the western edge of the district in Lockport to the eastern edge of the district in Bridgeport to generate publicity for his campaign.

Darwish says his ideology falls between the more moderate and socially conservative Lipinski and the unabashed liberalism of Newman. Darwish does not support the single payer Medicare for All health insurance plan that Newman is backing.

"I think we need to have an insurance system that is supported in fact by the government, however I do believe in Medicare for all those who want it," Darwish said using a phrase that presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg uses to describe his health insurance plan. "We need to have a system that still gives people a choice to keep their insurance if they're happy with it."

Newman, who has been endorsed by presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker, dismissed the idea of Medicare for All Who Want It.

"Medicare for All Who Want It is not a thing," Newman said. "It's something that he made up. I'm not sure why he made it up but he did."

Newman said she supports rolling out Medicare for All single payer health insurance system over a few years.

"Medicare for All is the most effective way; it is the best way for us to ensure that we have the highest quality of care and that our entire nation is covered, and make sure that health care is not a privilege; health care is a right," Newman said.

Lipinski supports building on the current Affordable Care Act.

Darwish said he supports the controversial Boycott, Divestment Sanctions movement that advocates boycotting goods made in Israel, divesting from investments in Israel, and sanctioning Israel until it withdraws from land conquered in the 1967 war. Darwish's parents come from an area that was captured by Israel in that war.

Hughes, 55, is a former city employee who now works as a mechanic for NICOR. He was part of the 23rd Ward Regular Democratic Organization when it was run by Bill Lipinski, the father of Dan Lipinski and his predecessor in Congress. Hughes tried to run for alderman in the 23rd Ward in 2011 and 2019 but was knocked off the ballot both times.

Hughes told the Landmark that while he liked Bill Lipinski he has no hesitations running against Dan Lipinski.

"Dan and Bill are two different people," Hughes said. "Dan is not like his father in a lot of ways. His father was conservative financially."

Hughes said he is concerned about the leftward drift of the Democratic Party.

"I'm also running because I think the candidates who are running are getting too far liberal and it's not good for the district and it's not good for the country," Hughes said.

Although he does not have a campaign website yet and is just starting to raise money Hughes says his political connections will enable him to become a serious competitor.

A previously announced candidate, lawyer Abe Matthew, dropped out of the race last month and endorsed Newman, who was philosophical about being denied a one on one rematch with Lipinski.

"I'm actually not going to worry about who's in the race or not in the race; I'm going to continue to work hard," said Newman who also said that she has appeared at 238 meet-and-greets thus far this year. 

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