Rep. Dan Lipinski fends off progressive challenger in Illinois primary, CNN projects
Posted March 20, 2018 9:40 p.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2018 9:44 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Dan Lipinski, a centrist, anti-abortion rights Democrat, survived a progressive primary challenge from Marie Newman on Tuesday for his Chicago-area House seat, CNN projects.
Lipinski was ahead of Newman 51% to 49% with 98% of precincts' tallies reported, according to Edison Research. That puts his lead at about 2,124 votes.
His win comes despite an intense effort by pro-abortion rights and women's groups -- including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY's List -- to purge the party of the anti-abortion lawmaker in a reliably Democratic district.
Newman, who told supporters Tuesday night that she was "not quite ready to make a decision" and that she wanted Lipinski to have a "very painful evening," conceded the race in a statement on Wednesday.
"Last night, we wanted to make sure that every vote was counted, that every voice was heard. We believed there was a possibility of victory," Newman said.
"After reviewing the results, we know that we lost by a thin margin. It was a good fight and I am so proud of the grassroots movement we built with hundreds of volunteers and partners all over the district," she added.
The race has been the most serious challenge of Lipinski's political life. He was first elected in 2004 when his father, former Rep. Bill Lipinski, waited until after the primary to announce his resignation and steer the nomination to his son. Lipinski easily won seven terms in the district, which favored Clinton over Trump by 15 points in 2016.
In a rare move against an incumbent member of their own party, two Illinois Democrats -- US Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez -- had endorsed Newman. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, had also thrown his political muscle behind her candidacy.
And former President Barack Obama's campaign aides mobilized against Lipinski, trashing him at a news conference and noting that he'd been the only Illinois Democrat to vote against Obama's signature health care law.
Lipinski, for his part, argued for a "big tent" Democratic Party that tolerates a wide range of social views and is focused on the economy.
He said Democrats are still recovering from an Obama era that saw the party bleed hundreds of state legislative seats.
"We have a long way to go, and it's certainly not the time to be pushing people out of the party, telling people they're not welcome," Lipinski told CNN as he campaigned Monday. "That was one of the problems -- it's why Donald Trump got elected in the first place, because Hillary Clinton was not being seen by some people in the Midwest as fighting for working-class men and women."
The only Republican on the ballot in Tuesday's primary was Holocaust denier Arthur Jones.