Several lessons were learned in the narrow victory Cong. Dan Lipinski posted over political newcomer Marie Newman in their hotly contested race for the Democratic primary in the 3rd Congressional District.
One was that a challenger with plenty of financial backing, and who represented a distinct difference from him, can give Lipinski a run for his money.
Another is that politics can be a rough-and-tumble sport.
The other lesson? It’s hard, really hard, to win precincts in Chicago when running against the Lipinski name on the city’s Southwest Side.
On Monday, nearly a week after her defeat, Newman said she was enjoying a fifth straight day rediscovering her family. She said she had been going 100 mph since filing her candidacy on April 1, 2017.
Fighting a nasty cough, she reflected on what could have been, and said she had no regrets.
“The numbers are what they are. They’ll still be there when I get to them. When I get ready, I will analyze them. And I’ll have some better learnings from that,” Newman said.
Final totals showed Lipinski with 48,432 votes to Newman’s 46,230.
The difference was his convincing win in Chicago, getting 22,274 votes to Newman’s 17,233.
But she was the clear-cut winner in suburban Cook County, 24,705 to 23,131, and in Will County, outpolling him 4,212 to 2,975.
She even managed to beat Lipinski in the district’s lone precinct in DuPage County, 80-52.
She enjoyed the campaign, despite the outcome.
“I learned a lot and grew a lot. It was a fantastic experience. I met absolutely wonderful people. That’s the joy. I met with (an estimated) 8,000 people individually,” Newman said.
Asked if the close outcome convinced her to run again in 2020, Newman did not commit.
“Oh, gosh, I am not ready to make any decisions at all. I would say there are lots of options and I have no idea what the future holds right now.”
Newman did not like that, in her opinion, Lipinski “did nothing but smear and make up stories about me.” She called him “a Machine politician who is unscrupulous.”
She was surprised, “that, with the exception of the Lipinski camp, everyone was open-armed and helpful across the board.”
Asked if she got votes from residents who disliked the negative tone seen in campaign literature, she said, “I don’t know. That’s a good question.”
For Lipinski, the victory was helped in large part by his strong political base in the city.
Built by his father, William, a former Chicago alderman and longtime congressman, the base has been maintained by the younger Lipinski since he took his father’s seat in Congress.
“I want to thank the people who knocked on doors, made phone calls, put up signs. I want to thank all of you who helped this campaign,” Lipinski said late March 20 at what turned out to be a victory party.
Lipinski’s chief of staff, Jerry Hurckes, said the large margin in city was the result “of Dan working hard and having a great name (with Chicago voters).”
“So many people love this guy, love his father,” Hurckes added.
Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty, a Lipinski supporter, shrugged and said “no comment” when asked about a race that he called “too close for comfort.” He added that Lipinski has been good for Lyons and other towns.
“it’s a changing electorate. The Millennials need to get out and vote, they need to be more involved,” said Sam Krneta, a Lipinski booster.
Lipinski thinks the large amount of funding, a reported more than $2.5 million on behalf of Newman, made the race closer. But he also spent around $2 million. Both are large amounts of money when it comes to a primary, sources said.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t be so close,” Lipinski said, “but it’s good to be in this position.”
“More than $2 million poured in here to attack me. It’s not just about fighting President Trump, but we need to bring people together to get things done, “said Lipinski, who thought Newman appealed to “the Tea Party of the Left.”
A campaign insider said “$2.5 million does a good job of keeping it close.”
The source said, “I didn’t see this coming. You talk to seniors, walk the precincts, train stations in the morning, senior centers in the afternoon … everybody loves him. They said, ‘Dan, you’re the best’ and ‘I’ve never voted Democrat. I’m taking a Democratic ballot this time’.”
Painted by Newman as being closer to Trump than the Democrats, Lipinski said he has opposed the president on several issues.
Newman also often hammered Lipinski on his pro-life stance, which may have won her some votes with pro-choice voters.
One source said, “I’ve never seen (political) ads use the word ‘abortion’ so often. Usually it’s code words like ‘Planned Parenthood’ or ‘a woman’s right to choose’.”
The source added that Lipinski “would rather lose an election that have to change his pro-life stance. That says a lot.”
In the end, Lipinski said: “We’ve got to bring people together in this country. We’re all Americans. I’m fighting to restore the American Dream.”