Democrats in the 3rd Congressional District, how you vote in this primary election will say a lot about what it means to be a Democrat in these ideologically polarized times.
Our endorsement goes to incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has a strong record of going to bat for working people, which is what Democrats are supposed to do. We urge a vote for Lipinski though we know he may be increasingly out of step with his party — or at least with his party’s leadership — on core social issues such as abortion and gay rights.
Democrats once took pride in being a big-tent party, tolerant of a diversity of views if only to win elections. We’ll have to see how well that big tent holds up today. Lipinski’s opponent, La Grange businesswoman Marie Newman, stands well to his left and believes the 3rd District does, too.
Lipinski, who took his father’s seat in Congress 14 years ago, is best known for working to bring federal funding to Illinois for infrastructure projects, such as new roads and bridges. This has earned him the strong support of organized labor groups, which covet the union jobs those project create. Lipinski also has been a champion of “buy American” rules when spending federal money, for beefing up workplace safety inspections, and for the rights of workers to organize.
Lipinski favors a higher hourly minimum wage, but not one as high as the “at least $15” called for by Newman, and he co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would ensure that employers who pay a man more than a woman for the same job must show the disparity is not gender-based, but job-related.
Lipinski is old-school in his view of what Illinois’ economy should look like, continuing to see a big role for traditional manufacturing. For that reason, he has opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, convinced it would lead to an export of American jobs. And he wrote the American Manufacturing Competitive Act — an excellent idea — which requires the federal government to produce a national strategic plan, updated every four years, to boost American manufacturing. The first plan is due this spring.
Newman is supported by prominent liberal Democrats, most notably Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who say Lipinski is just a closet Republican. Newman points out that Lipinski, an abortion rights foe, has voted several times to defund Planned Parenthood, and he was one of just three Democrats to vote against Obamacare in 2010.
Newman advocates “Medicare for all,” the universal health care plan promoted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, and she wants to increase the availability of affordable childcare.
On all these social issues, this editorial board stands on Newman’s side of the fence, but we respect Lipinski’s commitment to the concerns of ordinary working Americans at a time when unions and workers’ rights are under attack. That’s enough for us, for now.