Representative Dan Lipinski is a rare find in Congress these days: an anti-abortion Democrat who voted against the Affordable Care Act.
Of the 34 Democrats who broke with the party on that most consequential vote eight years ago, just three remain in office. And none have had it quite so easy as Lipinski, a low-key former college professor who in 2005 inherited a Chicago-area House seat that his father held for two decades.
He’s escaped any real threat from Republicans; they defeated most of the other anti-Obamacare Democrats but couldn’t compete in his solidly blue district. And the left has been too busy defending the law and fighting other battles in the years since.
But Lipinski, 51, is now facing a serious primary challenge for the first time in a decade, in what progressives say is a long-overdue political reckoning for a congressman whose voting record has gotten too far to the right of his constituents. Illinois’s third congressional district, which includes a portion of Chicago and suburbs to the south and west, went for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary and backed Hillary Clinton by 15 points in the general election.
Lipinski’s opponent in the March 20 primary, Marie Newman, has the backing of an array of national progressive organizations, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY’s List, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and the Service Employees International Union. And in an unusual break with Congress’s clubby norms, she’s won endorsements from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and two of Lipinski’s long-serving Democratic colleagues in the Illinois delegation: Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Luís Gutierrez.