A Primary Challenge to a Right-Wing Democrat in Illinois Divides the Resistance

The Intercept

LATE LAST MONTH (November 2017), a group of five national progressive organizations announced their support for Marie Newman, a Democrat running for Congress in Illinois. Nothing unusual there: Newman is a down-the-line progressive on everything from economic populism, immigration, LGBT rights, gun violence and a woman’s right to choose.

What made the move so unusual is that there is already a Democrat safely in the seat.

In a year defined by fierce resistance to President Donald Trump, the move marked the most aggressive challenge to a sitting Democrat this cycle, because it wasn’t organized by groups that have been set up specifically to challenge Democrats from the left, but rather by ones that often support those who’ve already been elected, while training their fire instead on Republicans.

The groups broadly come from the activist wing of the party that is comfortable working with establishment Democrats, if at occasionally an arms-length distance: NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign, MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The five joined Daily Kos, which had previously endorsed Newman.

As a signal of how significant the move was, take note of who did not join in the endorsement: Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List, or organized labor.

The latter absence is not hard to explain, as Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., much like his father before him, has long commanded the loyalty of unions in the district, who are closely tied to the party machinery, a machine that can still move a lot of ground in the state. “We’ve been gunning for Lipinski for something like 10 years now, and until organized labor abandons him, it’s always an uphill slog. But he certainly has no business being a Democrat and would love to see Newman catch fire,” Markos Moulitsas, head of Daily Kos, told The Intercept.


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