Sweet column: Can Rep. Dan Lipinski, installed in his seat by his dad, the former Rep. Bill Lipinski, survive Democratic primary challenge?

SHARE Sweet column: Can Rep. Dan Lipinski, installed in his seat by his dad, the former Rep. Bill Lipinski, survive Democratic primary challenge?
SHARE Sweet column: Can Rep. Dan Lipinski, installed in his seat by his dad, the former Rep. Bill Lipinski, survive Democratic primary challenge?

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) lives in Western Springs — that is, he moved there from Tennessee after his dad, former Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), lured him home with the promise that he would be handed his seat with the help of political sleight of hand.

Challenger John Sullivan, an attorney, is in the 19th Ward in Chicago, and rival John Kelly, an insurance broker who co-owns a tavern, lives in Oak Lawn.

For entire column, on the political makeup of the third congressional district, click here.

Democrat take all in 3rd District

March 9, 2006

BY LYNN SWEET SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST

Only one contested area congressional race will be decided for sure after the March 21 Illinois primary. That’s in the 3rd Congressional District, where the winner of the three-way Democratic primary will be virtually assured of election in November.

The Republicans didn’t even bother to field credible candidates in the district, stretching from the Southwest Side of Chicago to the adjacent suburbs.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) lives in Western Springs — that is, he moved there from Tennessee after his dad, former Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), lured him home with the promise that he would be handed his seat with the help of political sleight of hand.

Challenger John Sullivan, an attorney, is in the 19th Ward in Chicago, and rival John Kelly, an insurance broker who co-owns a tavern, lives in Oak Lawn.

Kelly got in the race late and, because of what I consider a loophole in federal rules, will file campaign disclosures for the very first time only today. That’s when we’ll learn who has bankrolled Kelly’s bid.

This race may prove that the conventional wisdom about this district — that it is rock conservative Democratic, the home of what used to be called Reagan Democrats — may just be wrong. A poll taken for Sullivan’s campaign shows the district has some surprisingly moderate leanings. I usually don’t write about a poll unless I can tell you who paid for it and I can see the whole book. The entire Sullivan district survey I studied — taken in November by pollster Celinda Lake — contains some surprises.

The most interesting political item to tuck away for present and future use is that Attorney General Lisa Madigan had the highest favorable rating in the poll: over (not in order) President Bush, Mayor Daley, Gov. Blagojevich, Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dan Lipinski and, no surprise, Sullivan, a political rookie.

Then again, the 3rd CD contains the 13th Ward led by Madigan’s stepfather, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), so you would expect that she would do well. Still, there is a germane point to make. Lisa Madigan is a progressive Democrat who supports abortion rights. Dan Lipinski is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, and Kelly, from what I gathered when we talked last week, is running to Lipinski’s right. Sullivan, like Lisa Madigan, is in the progressive camp.

Asked to describe themselves politically, the likely Democratic primary voters said 31 percent were very liberal or somewhat liberal, 40 percent moderate, 24 percent somewhat or very conservative and 5 percent did not know.

The poll also shows that if enough people know about how William Lipinski sneaked his son into office, it will change their opinion of if he deserves another term. Happy to oblige.

Dan Lipinski spokesman Chris Ganschow told me Wednesday he does not think the senior Lipinski’s political trickery will come home to deny his son a second term.

One-night stand: Obama/Cheney

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Lynne Cheney are the featured speakers at Saturday night’s annual Gridiron Club Dinner, and Obama may make his public singing debut. It’s a white tie or gown affair put on by journalists (all print reporters until just recently when the first TV person — Tim Russert — was admitted) and attended by President Bush.

Obama was a hit when he spoke at the Gridiron’s winter dinner in December 2004, after he was elected and before he was sworn in. That’s where he spawned the line, “I’m so overexposed that I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse.” Well, if he was overexposed then, just what word is best to use to describe all that’s been reported about Obama in the 13 months he’s been a senator?

The latest big play is a page one story this week in USA Today, pegged to his role as Democratic quarterback on ethics legislation.

The Gridiron winter dinner was a small gathering. Saturday night’s bash seats about 600. The pressure to be funny is huge. Because Lynne Cheney is speaking, at least we will know where Vice President Dick Cheney will be Saturday — in a secure, disclosed location. Maybe she will make hunting jokes. Duck!

Obama’s media consultant, David Axelrod, said Obama is tweaking the “substantially written” script.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Gridiron Club and will be singing in the mighty Gridiron chorus.

Blogger Sweet

Just as candidates for office test the waters before making their bid official, I’ve been making an exploratory run myself — as a blogger. I’ve been blogging for a few weeks, posting on a variety of subjects. I’ll make an “official” announcement later. Thanks to Austin Mayor, Zorn at the T, Archpundit, Daily Kos, CapitolFaxBlog and others for taking notice.

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