Progressive congressional candidate Marie Newman knocked off anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion incumbent Congressmember Dan Lipinski of Illinois’ Third Congressional District in a Democratic primary election on March 17, capping off a years-long effort during which Newman rebounded from a narrow loss to Lipinski in 2018 and finally sent him packing.
Newman campaigned on a platform of single-payer Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and sweeping criminal justice reform. After one of her two children was severely bullied in school, she teamed up with the Chicago-based Sears to establish Team Up to Stop Bullying, a coalition of about 70 community-based groups nationwide working on that issue. Newman co-authored “When Your Child Is Being Bullied,” a solutions-based guide for parents, school administrators, and policymakers, and she consulted with Illinois officials and those in other states and in Washington on battling bullying.
In her second run this week, Newman clung to a 47.1 percent to 44.8 percent advantage — or less than 2,500 votes — over Lipinski with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Two years ago, she fell short by 2,145 votes in that district, which encompasses the western and southwestern suburbs of Chicago.
“I am bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition that helped bring about much needed change in our district,” Newman wrote on Twitter on election night after she emerged victorious. “We are going to work together to lower health care costs, to fight climate change, and to build an economy that works for everyone.”
Lipinski was one of the few Democratic members of either house of Congress to maintain such conservative views on LGBTQ rights and abortion. He refused to co-sponsor the Equality Act, which would usher in comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, and has voted against queer rights and other measures since he entered Congress more than a decade ago. He opposed the Affordable Care Act, continues to voice his personal opposition to same-sex marriage, is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. During the 2018 primary race — three years after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage — he discussed his views on same-sex marriage with the Chicago Sun-Times, saying, “Personally, I don’t support it, but that doesn’t matter in how I vote.”
Newman scored endorsements from key names in the party to help boost her profile and propel her campaign to victory, including Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. There was celebration among progressives following Newman’s victory. Ocasio-Cortez cheered Newman’s performance in a tweet after the results emerged.
“One bright spot: despite powerful attempts in DC to protect an anti-LGBT+, anti-choice Dem in a safe blue seat, powerful progressive @Marie4Congress won the #IL03 primary! Congratulations, Marie,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “You & every organizer worked so hard to make this happen.”
Warren also turned to Twitter, writing, “Congrats to @Marie4Congress on winning her primary election in #IL03! This isn’t a moment to back down — it’s the time to fight back.”
Newman will go on to face Republican Mike Fricilone, who easily defeated a pair of opponents on the same evening. However, the numbers are very much in Newman’s favor: She received 48,042 votes compared to Fricilon’s 9,242 votes, indicating an uphill battle for the GOP to capture the seat.