Yesterday was primary election day in Illinois. Despite running a strong race in the 3rd congressional district, progressive candidate Marie Newman just failed to edge out incumbent Democratic congressman Dan Lipinski who won by the slim margin of 51.2-48.8%. Lipinski is a truly awful candidate and one wonders how and why the party establishment supported him, given that it is a solid Democratic seat. As Ryan Grim writes, Lipinski, who ‘inherited’ the seat from his father, “opposes abortion rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and voted against Obamacare”. Given the open primary system in Illinois, it is possible that many Republicans voted for Lipinski in the Democratic primary especially since on the Republican side an open neo-Nazi was running unopposed.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes legal abortion, made re-electing Lipinski a major priority, dumping big money into the race and working the ground to get out the anti-abortion vote on his behalf.
The momentum shifted towards Newman late in the campaign as people began to realize how awful Lipinski’s voting record and positions were. What is clear is that two years from now, Lipinski will likley lose to Newman if she chooses to challenge him again so it will be interesting to see if he steers away from his conservative positions.
For the governor’s race, a billionaire J. B. Pritzker won the Democratic nomination for governor and will challenge Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner who won a close race against his challenger.
But Zaid Jilani writes that in Cook County, the heart of the Democratic party machine in that state, progressives scored some impressive victories in many races for local offices.
The down-ballot wins, said United Working Families Executive Director Emma Tai, say as much for this moment as they do for the future of the movement, which is finally rebuilding a bench of talent. “The United Working slate was comprised of young people of color who were first-time candidates. They took on big-money interests and the Democratic machine and they won,” she said. “These victories didn’t all happen just tonight. They come from long-term organizing that goes back to the 2015 elections that helped spawn robust independent political organization around Chicago. We’re stand ready to take on the corporate Democrats who have let incarceration, violence, gentrification, and unemployment ravage our communities. And tonight’s results show that the voters are with us.”
Real political change comes from the ground up, because that is how you build long-term mass participation.