Photo by Dermot Connolly
An Oak Lawn voter checks in at the polling place at Salem United Church of Christ, 9719 S. Kostner Ave., about 10 a.m. Tuesday. A slow trickle of voters was coming in, only one or two at a time, and election judges said they had signed in a couple of dozen voters at that point. Some of that may have been due to a large volume of early voting.
By Bob Bong
Democratic challenger Marie Newman declared victory Tuesday night in her second attempt at unseating veteran congressman Dan Lipinski in the 3 rd District primary.
“What a journey,” she said in a prepared statement. “I am bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition who helped bring about much needed change in our district. We are going to work together to lower healthcare costs, to fight climate change, and to continue building a hospitable community for everyone, no matter where you come from.
“This campaign has always been about workers and working people and advocating for better healthcare and an economy that works for everybody. I look forward to working with this amazing coalition over the next seven months to continue spreading that message. I want to thank all my amazing supporters and volunteers who knocked on thousands of doors and made many more phone calls. I am so proud of the work we have done and I look forward to working together to continue solving problems and fighting for better solutions.
“In the weeks and months ahead, I want to call on everyone in this district, both those who ran with me and those who did not, to come together. In the face of this uncertainty, I know that we can get through this together, arm in arm. This community is strong - I’ve been in every single corner of this district and I know that we can get through just about anything when we take it on together.”
Even as several news organizations, including the New York Times, also declared Newman the winner, representatives of Lipinski said primary election was too close to call.
“Thank you so much for your support in this election,” he said in a prepared statement Tuesday night. “As we close this evening, there are still votes to be counted in this race. 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 of yourselves and your families.”
Newman, of La Grange, was clinging to a lead at the time, but enough uncounted votes remained to consider the race to be determined, according to Lipinski political advisor Jerry Hurckes.
“Still waiting for early numbers to be added to totals,” Hurckes texted to a reporter who sought comment.
The district is primarily in Cook County, with 257 precincts, but includes 43 in Will County and two precincts in DuPage County as well. According to the latest unofficial results from the election boards, with only four Cook County precincts not counted, Newman tallied 30,787 votes (49.01 percent) and Lipinski garnered 26,096 (41.54 percent). Rush Darwish got 4,662 (7.42 percent), and Charles Hughes received 1,278 (2.03 percent).
Due to the coronavirus crisis, traditional election night festivities were called off, and Newman originally planned to deliver remarks by Facebook video from her Countryside headquarters at 8 p.m. But because results were slow to come in, she only spoke informally with her campaign directors.
Lipinski, of Western Springs, was appointed to the office in 2005 after his father, Bill Lipinski, had stepped down. The younger Lipinski was seeking to win election for his eighth two-year term as congressman.
His previous election in 2018 saw a close victory of just 2,145 votes against Newman, who soon decided it was worth another attempt.
Abortion was a big issue in the campaign. Lipinski is the rare Democrat whom is pro-life while Newman is pro-choice.
Lipinski spokeswoman Sally Daly, while on a speaker phone with reporters who gathered in the Capri Ballroom in Countryside, said the race was “extremely close.”
“We are still waiting for the Chicago votes in terms of early voting to come in. Which, we think will be potentially impactful for the Congressman.
“We’re still kind of in a holding pattern. The mail-in votes, as well, will be an issue, so things are really too close to call at this point,” Daly told reporters.
Lipinski’s crew was waiting for all the information before he would address reporters, she indicated.
“Personally, I don’t think he’ll be available,” Daly said around 10:15 p.m. Daly called the scene “an unprecedented scenario.”
In the Republican primary, the chairman of the Illinois GOP, Tim Schneider, was celebrating the defeat of avowed Nazi sympathizer Art Jones.
Will County Board member Mike Fricilone (4,909 votes in suburban Cook County) was an easy winner over Oak Lawn real estate broker Catherine O’Shea (3,181) and Jones (965).
“I promised that the Illinois Republican Party would do everything in its power to defeat Nazi Arthur Jones. And we did,” Schneider said. “Because many folks go to the polls and simply choose a familiar name in down-ballot races, the Illinois GOP was committed to deploying resources to educate voters on Jones’ heinous views. We were successful in doing that, and hopefully now Arthur Jones has gotten the message that he does not represent our values and has no place in the Republican Party.
“I applaud Mike Fricilone for his strong victory tonight and for his willingness to stand up and take on Nazi Arthur Jones,” Schneider said. “Mike is a tremendous candidate who will wage a strong campaign in the general election.”
In the race for Board of Review 1 st District, Democrat Tammy Wendt of Palos Heights outpolled Abdelnasser Rashid of Justice, 95,031 to 79,291 with 1,041 out of 1,084 precincts reporting.
Reporters Dermot Connolly and Steve Metsch contributed to this report.