Marie Newman declares victory over U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, but ‘still votes to be counted,’ he says

This was the second time Newman had sought to oust the longtime Democratic congressman, who along with his father led the 3rd Congressional district for nearly four decades.

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Marie Newman (left) and Rep. Dan Lipinski.

Marie Newman (left) and Rep. Dan Lipinski.

Sun-Times file

Complete coverage of the local and national primary and general election, including results, analysis and voter resources to keep Chicago voters informed.

It was the second time in two years that Marie Newman found herself within a few thousand votes of unseating Rep. Dan Lipinski in the hotly contested 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary. 

But in the rematch of their electoral slugfest Tuesday night, it was Newman who was on top with nearly 99% of precincts reporting. 

Newman held more than 47% of the vote over Lipinski’s nearly 45%, putting the LaGrange challenger closer to toppling a south suburban political dynasty that dates back nearly four decades. 

It was enough for Newman to declare victory over the eight-term incumbent.

“This campaign has always been about workers and working people and advocating for better healthcare and an economy that works for everybody,” Newman said in a statement. “I look forward to working with this amazing coalition over the next seven months to continue spreading that message.” 

But Lipinski wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.

“As we close this evening, there are still votes to be counted in this race,” Lipinski said in a statement. “It is very close. We may have to wait overnight or into the morning for the final vote count. I want to thank everyone for their support. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves and your families.”

Earlier in the evening, Lipinski communications director Phil Davidson said the race might come down to mail-in votes, adding that they were waiting for early votes from “friendly precincts.”

He bemoaned the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the close contest, acknowledging low voter turnout typically would be good news for the incumbent, but saying “when it’s a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, you throw out all of the rules right now.”

Both campaigns had canceled election night parties to limit the spread of COVID-19.

It would be a monumental defeat of a household name in Chicago and Illinois politics. Lipinski landed in Congress in 2005 after his Chicago political powerhouse father Bill Lipinski — who had represented the area since 1983 — maneuvered to ensure his son would take over after he retired.

And the contest marked a grudge match between Lipinski and Newman, who lost by just 2,145 votes when she first mounted a progressive challenge against the conservative Democratic incumbent in 2018. By early Wednesday, Newman led by 2,365 votes.

Rush Darwish, 3rd Congressional District candidate.

Rush Darwish, 3rd Congressional District candidate.

Rich Hein/Sun-Times

But the 2018 matchup was a head-to-head contest. Two other challengers also took votes this time around: Palos Hills entrepreneur Rush Darwish, who drew about 6% of the vote; and Charles Hughes, a Southwest Side NICOR employee who previously worked as a precinct captain for Lipinski’s father. Hughes had about 2% of the vote.

During an often antagonistic campaign race leading up to Tuesday, Newman drew high-profile endorsements from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders while painting the anti-abortion Lipinski as a “fake” Democrat. Pro-choice groups praised Newman’s performance Tuesday night.

Lipinski had presented himself as a voice of reason in a bitterly partisan Congress — and more in touch with constituents in the district that extends from the Bridgeport neighborhood out to the far southwest suburbs, an area that includes many socially conservative voters. 

The district is also solidly Democratic, all but ensuring a November win for whoever officially advances to the general election.

In other Chicago congressional Democratic primary races, U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush and Danny Davis cruised to victory, leaving them poised to hold onto their seats in the the 1st and 7th Congressional districts, respectively.