Toe the party line, bro.
Politico stated it perfectly: “Dan Lipinski is the kind of candidate Democrats need more of for the party to win the House in November. But the national Democratic Party is refusing to endorse him.”
Lipinski, a pro-life Blue Dog Democrat, has represented Illinois’s 3rd district for seven terms. Activist Marie Newman, whom The Independent described as “a decidedly Bernie Sanders-styled progressive,” has challenged him with a platform more aligned with the party.
So why would the Democratic Party turn its back on an incumbent? The abortion industry? Purity tests? Either way, this move against a popular incumbent shows that the Democratic Party remains in disarray despite their talk of taking over the House.
The Lipinski Files
Lipinski represents a largely Democrat district, yet he is as conservative as Democrats come: pro-life and he voted against Obamacare, same-sex marriage, and immigration reforms.
At first, I thought, maybe Democrats aren’t backing him because it’s a district that Trump won, meaning the district is now leaning Republican. NOPE. Failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat Trump 55% to 39% in Lipinski’s district in the 2016 elections.
The Republican candidate is Holocaust denier Arthur Jones. You know, the man who told The Chicago Sun-Times, “[T]o me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket.” Jones tried to run in 2016, but officials removed him from the ballot.
Lipinski has served seven terms. It looks like Lipinski had no opposition in the primaries in 2012 or 2016. He defeated his primary opponents in 2014, 2010, 2008, 2006, and won the nomination in 2004 after he replaced his father, who served for two decades prior, on the ballot.
Why is the Democrat party turning its back on Lipinksi now?
Strains in the Democrat Party
Abandoning Lipinski shows that the fractions within the Democrat Party still exist and the future doesn’t look better. From Politico:
After years of feeling ignored and sometimes shunned by the DCCC — Blue Dogs have said the campaign arm is historically biased toward progressive candidates, even if they aren’t the best fit for a district — this election cycle was supposed to bring a better working relationship between the two groups.
With that in mind, Blue Dog leaders Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) pressed DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) about the Lipinski race over dinner in January.
Was DCCC planning to endorse Lipinski ahead of the primary? they [sic] asked Luján at Acqua Al 2, a popular Italian joint on Capitol Hill. Luján responded that the campaign arm would support Lipinski, and Cuellar and Costa walked away from the dinner thinking an endorsement was in the works, according to both men, who recounted the conversation to POLITICO.
“We would be disappointed” if that endorsement didn’t come, Cuellar said recently. “Especially when I personally spoke to the chairman and the chairman told me ‘We will be supporting the incumbent.’”
The Blue Dogs, along with other lawmakers, thought for sure the DCCC would support Lipinski.
Then Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) decided to endorse Newman. MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked DNC Chairman Tom Perez if the party can have pro-life members like Lipinski and pressed the issue of the DNC’s abandonment of a viable incumbent. He said: “One thing I’ve learned from primaries in the past is that when the DNC gets involved in those races, then we sometimes get accused of trying to put the thumb on the scale.”
Luján told Politico that “Lipinski is taking this race seriously, he has ample resources and support at home, and is running to win.” Something tells me that Luján wants the DCCC to support Lipinski.
Schakowsky will not back down from her endorsement of Newman and justified her decision suggesting the district will likely remain Democrat.
Everyone has a right to endorse and support the candidate they choose, but the DCCC’s actions, along with Perez’s decision not to endorse Lipinski, have some on the Hill worried:
While at first glance the dispute between the Blue Dogs and DCCC might seem like a simple disagreement over semantics, several Democratic lawmakers and aides said the campaign committee’s refusal to publicly back Lipinski, even if it is offering some help privately, is much bigger than that.
DCCC’s actions, those members argued, could have a chilling effect on current members and potential candidates who don’t line up with the progressive purity test liberals are pushing.
“If someone is a big donor to the DCCC or is a big voice like Schakowsky, if members go astray, are they going to have to watch their back?” said a senior Democratic House staffer.
“I think it’s shocking that the DCCC or Chairman Luján can’t say that they support Congressman Lipinski. Supporting incumbents should be No. 1 there.”
Could It Be the Abortion Industry Won’t Allow Democrats to Move Forward?
You know how everyone on the left has been bashing people for taking donations from the NRA? Well, it’s weird that they won’t say anything about the infanticide groups because we know those groups have a YUGE voice in Congress:
Some Democrats speculated that NARAL, the powerful abortion rights group that has been aiming to take down Lipinski for years, is behind DCCC’s decision not to publicly support Lipinski. Steven Kravitz, a chief executive at NARAL, is the treasurer of a newly formed super PAC that has recently spent more than $400,000 to boost Newman.
(So the NRA can’t boost candidates, but organizations that make money off of the murder of unborn human beings is perfectly okay!)
Newman also has major backing from EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood. Other pro-infanticide groups and people include Gloria Steinem, Feminist Majority, and Human Rights Campaign.
Back in August, I blogged how Luján created conflict when he decided the party will not withhold funds from Democrat pro-life candidates. Perez gawked at that idea along with infanticide groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
Remember, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agree with Luján on the litmus test. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) even said:
“I am strongly pro-choice. I am strongly pro-choice, and I will fight,” Warren told HuffPost, continuing, “But that’s not how everyone in the party feels.”
“I recognize that not all of my colleagues agree with me. I’ll do everything I can to persuade them, but they are my colleagues, and that’s just how it is with the Democrats,” the senator concluded.
The Democrats need a reminder how they took over the majority in 2006. It sounds like Luján’s plan (emphasis mine):
Democrats are unlikely to win the 24 seats they need to recapture control without contesting more conservative districts. The last time Democrats won control, in the 2006 midterm elections, the party recruited — and supported financially — a significant number of Democrats who did not entirely support abortion rights, including Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Heath Shuler (N.C.) and Jason Altmire (Pa.).
“Both [then-DCCC Chairman] Rahm Emanuel and [then-Democratic National Committee Chairman] Howard Dean with his 50 state strategy understood that in order to win districts that had eluded Democrats in previous cycles, they were going to have to field candidates who didn’t look like national Democrats,” Altmire told The Hill. “People understood the class of ’06 was driven largely by the centrist candidates.”
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