How a 7 term Dem congressman loses the DCCC's support

Primary season for the midterms is getting underway and the DCC is already under scrutiny for their perceived efforts at picking winners and losers. The Democrats are hoping for a blue wave and clearly want to capitalize on historic trends while still capturing the energy of their base. But they’re defending quite a few House seats which they’ve held for a while now, so at least those choices should be easy. You go with the incumbent, right? Particularly when it’s somebody who’s held the seat for seven terms.

Not so for Dan Lipinski, the seven-term representative of Illinois’ 3rd district. He’s gotten a bit of an unpleasant surprise after learning that he’s insufficiently far to the left for the 2018 Democratic Party and perhaps some new blood is called for. In fact, the national party seems to be taking a closer look at his primary opponent who checks a few more boxes for the far left, particularly on abortion. (Chicago Tribune)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski says his party is risking creating a “tea party” faction as it drifts leftward and fails to support a “big tent” of contrasting ideas.

Lipinski is a social conservative who opposes abortion, and he’s facing a serious primary challenge from the left via political newcomer Marie Newman. She has the backing of abortion rights advocacy groups, as well as Lipinski’s colleagues U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Luis Gutierrez of Chicago…

“Four years ago we were at our lowest point in (Democratic seats in) the U.S. House since Herbert Hoover was president. We’ve come up slightly since then, but we’re still in a big hole, and there are those who want to have a ‘tea party of the left’ in the Democratic Party to match, unfortunately, what’s happened to the Republicans,” he said.

This is supposed to be a safe seat for the Democrats, so whoever wins the Democratic primary takes it, right? That’s traditionally been true. But if you read up on the history of Illinois-3 it’s a rather odd duck. There is a small portion of it in Cook County taking in the southwest portion of greater Chicago (where a Democrat can still win even if they’re dead on election day) but it runs far off into the suburbs and exurbs to the west from there. Probably two-thirds of the district is actually well out of the city. It’s been described as “ancestrally Democratic, culturally conservative, multiethnic and viscerally patriotic.” It was also claimed as a proud home of Reagan Democrats back in the day.

Let’s stop and consider the culture here. If the voters of this district, who admittedly register Democrat in significant numbers, had any problem with a pro-life candidate, do you think they’d have kept on electing Lipinski for the past decade and a half? They may be liberal on a number of other issues, but they clearly skew socially conservative. If the Democrats suddenly figure out a way to shove a new, Planned Parenthood approved, pro-abortion candidate through in the primary, are they going to start considering other options in the general election?

Lupinski has a point about the Tea Party. They managed to upturn a lot of apple carts in their first surge, but they also overreached in quite a few spots and pushed through candidates who were too far to the right for the turf they were looking to take. (Something which could probably be explained in great detail by Senator Christine O’Donnell.) This would still be a shot in the dark for the Republicans, but if Lupinski goes down because the party wants to push him out in favor of a purist we should definitely break out some extra popcorn and keep an eye on that race.