Chicago, Ill., Mar 18, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of the last pro-life Democrats in Congress, lost his primary election to pro-abortion challenger Marie Newman on Tuesday.
Election results from the New York Times showed Newman with a 2,365-vote lead over Lipinski, with 99% of precincts reporting, early Monday morning. Newman successfully reversed her 2018 result, in which she fell around 2,000 votes short of upsetting the incumbent.
Lipinski is a Catholic eight-term representative of Illinois’ third congressional district, on the south side of Chicago. He is recognized as the last reliably pro-life Democrat in the House of Representatives, bucking the party whip to support pro-life legislation, including supporting “pain-capable” 20-week abortion bans and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
Late Tuesday evening, his campaign released a statement via Facebook saying that “there are still votes to be counted in this race. It is very close. We may have to wait overnight or into the morning for the final vote count. I want to thank everyone for their support. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves and your families.”
Newman, a pro-abortion candidate making her second consecutive challenge against Lipinski, tweeted on Tuesday evening that she was “bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition that helped bring about much needed change in our district.”
The president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Ilyse Hogue, tweeted on Tuesday that Lipinski was “anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ,” and that the party should end “these oppressive views.”
While Newman herself tried to highlight her support for other policies during the primary, such as Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, she received substantial support from many national pro-abortion groups, including pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and EMILY’s List.
Together, those groups and others formed a coalition that invested $1.4 million into the race in late February to buy digital and TV ads and send direct mail to voters in Newman’s favor.
NARAL said that the ad campaign would target Lipinski’s pro-life record, including his signing an amicus brief in favor of Louisiana’s safety regulations of abortion clinics at the Supreme Court, and his voting seven times to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
Newman also criticized Lipinski for not supporting policies such as Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, and said that he opposed the Affordable Care Act. While Lipinski voted against the health care bill before it became law in 2010 for reasons including its funding of elective abortions, he has since defended the law from the House Republicans repeal-and-replace measure introduced in 2017.
The president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, offered her “condolences” to Lipinski on Wednesday.
“Congressman Lipinski has long been a profile in courage, bucking the sad trend of Democrat leaders vying to be the greatest advocate of abortion. We are deeply grateful for his bravery in standing strong,” Dannenfelser said.
“The expulsion of this pro-life hero from Congress by his own party is an ominous sign for pro-life Democrats and all who long to see both major parties hold a principled stance in favor of life,” she said.
Lipinski in January also told CNA that he had wished for more support from pro-life groups. He had narrowly edged out Newman in 2018 in a race that saw around $2.5 million spent on campaign ads and mailings, and was facing a tough rematch. Newman had already secured the backing of several of Lipinski’s congressional colleagues including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) who endorsed the challenger back in September.
The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) also played a role in the election, with election judges in Cook County reportedly not showing up to verify results at polling places. Lipinski’s campaign spokesman Phil Davidson told CNA on Monday that the spread of the virus, and the resulting decision of many residents to stay home had “really flipped the script” and that “turnout is going to be lower.”
Democrats for Life of America told CNA on Monday they had canvassed in the district for Lipinski with volunteers from Students for Life, with around 20 volunteers working on Sunday. National Right to Life said earlier in March that they had sent direct mail to “thousands of pro-life supporters in the district” in favor of Lipinski.
Susan B. Anthony List made the maximum-allowable $5,000 direct contribution to Lipinski’s campaign in December, and said they were “bundling” for his campaign as well. The group’s partner Women Speak Out PAC spent nearly $10,000 in “independent expenditures” for Lipinski and against Newman, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Newman said that she was baptized Catholic at a local parish, in a campaign video that highlighted her ties to the district. She also secured the support of two nuns, Sisters JoAnn Persch and Pat Murphy of the Sisters of Mercy, who endorsed her in a campaign video.
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