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Embattled Illinois Democrat Warns Party of Progressive ‘Tea Party’ Takeover

He’s chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus and a Democrat? That’s a big litmus test fail as far as progressives are concerned, and it could mean Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois will have to find other work in 2019.

“I don’t think he understands the district has changed beyond dramatically since his tenure,” Marie Newman told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board in a joint appearance with Lipinski, the first of the campaign.

Newman, a LaGrange, Ill., businesswoman and a progressive Democrat, thinks she is the candidate who can finally unseat Lipinski, a seven-term incumbent who followed his father into office in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.

But as the Illinois Democrats’ March 20 primary draws closer, Lipinkski warned his fellow Democrats on Sunday of an ultra-left-wing “tea party” movement pushing the party too far to the left of mainstream America.

Lipinski told Chicago’s WGN Radio that just as Democrats are beginning to recover from having the lowest number of U.S. House seats since the days of the Hoover administration, left-wing Democrats threaten to drag the party into a deeper hole.

“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. “We need to have a big-tent party. We need to rally around those issues that can bring all Democrats together.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has refused to endorse Lipinski and fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is a member of the DCCC leadership, backed Newman’s campaign in January.

However, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tossed Lipinski a lifeline March 1 when, at the end of her weekly press conference, she told a reporter, twice, that she supported Lipinski’s re-election.

“On abortion, yes, I’m pro-life,” Lipinski said. “I think science shows that life begins at conception, and that is a value that I think as a Democrat who believes government has a role in protecting those who are vulnerable that we should protect.”

However, Lipinski also told the Sun-Times editorial board that Newman failed to understand his history in Congress as a Democrat who was a problem-solver instead of a politician who merely added to the “bickering and gridlock” in Congress.

Abortion is not the only issue on which the divide between Lipinski and Newman is as stark as one might expect between a Republican and a Democrat.

While Lipinski referred to the Colorado case of a baker arguing for his right to refuse to serve a gay couple as “a very difficult question” of free speech, Newman said the story was a “horrific” case of discrimination.

Lipinski – this guy is a Democrat, remember – actually voted against Obamacare. Newman supports Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) call for “Medicare for all.”