EMILY’s List, the fundraising group that backs pro-abortion rights Democratic women, on Friday endorsed Illinois progressive Marie Newman’s campaign against Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress.
Support from EMILY’s List, a fundraising powerhouse closely aligned with Democratic Party leadership, gives Newman a major boost in her effort to unseat Lipinski in the March 20 primary.
“Throughout her career, Marie has worked to improve her community and advocate on behalf of children and families. Her record is unimpeachable,” Stephanie Schriock, EMILY’s List president, said in a statement that also criticized Lipinski.
“He has put women’s reproductive health care in jeopardy and sought to end protections against discrimination,” Schriock said. “This is not an acceptable way to govern ― and it’s certainly not what the people of Illinois’ 3rd District deserve.”
Primary challenges to incumbent Democratic members of Congress are exceedingly rare. Perhaps rarer, however, is a Democratic congressman with a history of voting for abortion restrictions. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is likely the only other Democratic member of Congress who flat-out opposes abortion rights.
Newman already had the backing of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign, a host of progressive groups, and Illinois Reps. Luis Gutiérrez and Jan Schakowsky (D).
But EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood Action Fund had yet to jump in the race. Planned Parenthood Action Fund told HuffPost on Friday that the group hasn’t yet announced its 2018 endorsements.
In addition to his abortion opposition, Lipinski has voted against a law banning discrimination against LGBT Americans in the workplace, and taken several conservative stances on immigration, including by voting against a 2010 version of the Dream Act. (Last summer, Lipinski co-sponsored a bill extending legal protection for undocumented immigrants who benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.)
Illinois’ 3rd District remains favorable territory for Lipinski. It encompasses southwestern suburbs of Chicago that skew more conservative than other parts of the metropolitan area.
But that may be changing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won Lipinski’s district by 9 percentage points in the 2016 primary, and Hillary Clinton carried it by nearly double that margin in the general election. ( Lipinski backed Sanders in the primary, giving him some credibility with anti-establishment voters.)
A key advantage for Lipinski thus far has been support he retains from the district’s influential labor unions. AFSCME Council 31, which represents Illinois public employees, endorses Lipinski, with spokesman Anders Lindall noting the incumbent’s 100-percent rating on the union’s 2017 congressional scorecard and 95-percent lifetime rating.
But Lipinski’s union support may be weakening. The Intercept reported on Friday that SEIU plans to endorse Newman.
Lipinski opposes raising the minimum wage to $15, a key priority for organized labor. Newman backs a federal $15 minimum wage.