Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders endorsed a primary challenge on Wednesday to one of the lone pro-life Democrats left in Congress, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL). The move came despite Lipinski having been one of the few Democratic superdelegates to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Sanders couched his decision to endorse Marie Newman, who failed to unseat Lipinski last year but is running again, in the rhetoric of taking on the “establishment.”
At a time when workers are under attack by Wall Street and women’s rights are under attack by well-funded extremist groups across the country, I am proud to support Marie Newman’s grassroots campaign for Congress. Marie will challenge the establishment by fighting for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, expanding workers’ rights, and she will be a powerful voice for upholding Roe v. Wade at a disturbing moment in our history when a woman’s right to control her own body and future is at stake.
Sanders had endorsed Newman during that initial outing in 2018, although he waited until nearly the end of the primary cycle. At the time, the late endorsement drew notice from some on the left, many of whom were equally critical of Sanders’ 2017 decision to campaign with a pro-life Democrat in Nebraska.
Lipinski is one of the last remaining vocal pro-life Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, he supported the Republican-led investigation into Planned Parenthood after undercover footage revealed the organization participated in the harvesting and sale of fetal tissue. Lipinski has also sponsored legislation to prohibit tax dollars from being used for abortion.
Apart from being pro-life, Lipinski holds traditional views on marriage and voted against Obamacare, much to the ire of an increasingly left-leaning Democratic Party. Those views were exhibited recently when liberal activists and elected officials forced the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to cancel a fundraiser on Lipinski’s behalf because of his pro-life views.
This timing of Sanders’ endorsement comes after two of his competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), extended their support to Newman last month. It also coincides with a wave of pro-life laws being enacted by states throughout the country. Sanders has labeled such laws, like the one in Louisiana that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat, “draconian.”
The irony, however, is that Lipinski was one of the few superdelegates to stand with Sanders during the latter’s failed bid for the 2016 Democratic presidenital nomination.