Left Eats Left: Progressives Go After One of Few Remaining Moderate Democrats

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Posted: Dec 18, 2017 3:00 PM
Left Eats Left: Progressives Go After One of Few Remaining Moderate Democrats

Democrats are trying to take out their own in the race for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District…all because he’s not progressive enough by the party’s standards. 

According to a report in Politico, Lipinski is up for one of the toughest political fights of his life against the much more leftist candidate Marie Newman, a former marketing consultant and businesswoman, who’s nabbed endorsements from Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gloria Steinem, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, NARAL, Human Rights Campaign, and Progressive Campaign Committee. 

“Dan Lipinski has a real, formidable challenger like he’s never had before. The environment is different. ... The energy is palpable,” said Sasha Bruce, vice president for campaigns and strategies with NARAL, reports Politico. “This is a staunchly progressive values-Democratic district.”

So what is it about Lipinski that has progressives lined up to oppose him? 

First elected in 2004, Lipinski is something of an exotic species: a Democrat who opposes abortion and has cast votes against both the Affordable Care Act and the DREAM Act, which sought to provide a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.

He was the only Democrat to co-sponsor the First Amendment Defense Act, which protects those who refuse services to same sex couples, and the only Illinois Democrat to support drug testing those seeking unemployment benefits — a move that has at least some union leaders considering opposing his reelection.

According to one analysis, Lipinski has voted in line with Trump’s positions 34.5 percent of the time — a legislative record that is begging for a primary challenge in a highly polarized era.

Some of those votes have left a bitter aftertaste in his solidly Democratic district, which includes Latino working class neighborhoods in Chicago — the district is roughly one-third Latino — and suburbs south of the city. Until recently, Lipinski was the only Illinois Democrat not to commit to supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Politico)

Not surprisingly, Lipinski, who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, said he should not be characterized as a conservative. 

“There are people who just want me to follow in line and vote however the party says … We have gotten to a point where everything is black and white. You are either for something in theory or against something in theory, when a lot of these things come down to: What are the details? Let's try and get the policy right,” he said, reports Politico. “I think my constituents see that is how I've always been. ... I think that's a real hunger that a lot of Americans have. I'm not just going to be an automaton.

Instead, he cast himself as a moderate voice, which he wished there were more of on Capitol Hill. 

“There are Democrats who are a lot more conservative than I am on issues. I wish there were more moderate Democrats,” Lipinski told POLITICO. “I'm pro-life. I make no bones about that. Always have been. I think this painting me as somebody who is really conservative — I have a strong environmental record,” in addition to his support for seniors, Medicare and Social Security, he told Politico.