“There’s no doubt that Lipinski is more conservative than his district,” said one Democratic elected official who represents parts of Lipinski’s district and who requested anonymity to speak freely. “Obviously, that disconnect is especially true among Democratic primary voters.”

Lipinski nearly lost his primary in 2018 when Marie Newman came within 1.8 percentage points of him. Newman, who supports abortion rights and LGBTQ rights, is running again in 2020 and already has national progressive groups backing her campaign. EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood and MoveOn have endorsed her. So have 2020 presidential candidates including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also endorsed her.

Why are presidential contenders and national organizations so focused on an Illinois House race? In part, it’s because progressives are furious at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is charged with expanding Democratic seats in the House, over its policy of cutting ties with vendors that work with challengers to Democratic incumbents. The policy has already crippled Newman’s campaign, and progressives, angry at DCCC for standing by Lipinski, are rallying to help her.