Last night, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) lost a tight race to progressive challenger Marie Newman and became the first House incumbent to lose their primary election in 2020. Newman tried to unseat Lipinski two years earlier, but lost that election by just 2.4 points.
Israel emerged as a hot topic in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district fight. Lipinski was one of the most conservatives Democrats in Congress and a staunch supporter of the country. Earlier this year, Lipinski accused Newman of trying to make Israel a wedge issue with the district’s large Palestinian population of the district. In Newman’s position paper she wrote, “I oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I also oppose the presence of Israeli settlements and housing on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem which violate international law and undermine the prospect for a just peace.” Lipinski claimed that Newman had “become anti-Israel to some extent.”
Newman has indicated that she is open to the idea of conditioning aid to Israel, a topic that has been consistently brought up by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “The U.S. has a responsibility to examine how aid to Israel is used and that we should ensure that this aid is not used to support actions and policies that undercut our values,” Newman has said.
Newman does not support the BDS movement, but she opposes any attempt to penalize its supporters. This is in contrast to Lipinski, who introduced a bill in 2014 that would have cut federal funding to universities that participated in the boycott.
Additionally, Newman is a supporter of the Iran nuclear deal, which Lipinski voted against. “I have always been a strong supporter of Israel,” Lipinski said. “I have never backed down from my support because I believe supporting Israel, supporting the strengthening of the U.S.-Israel relationship is good not just for Israel, it’s good for the Middle East and it’s good for the United States and so as long as that is the case I will continue to do so.”
Newman was backed by the liberal, pro-Israel group J Street and, while AIPAC doesn’t formally endorse candidates, its supplied Lipinski with support.
Hey, Congressman! Great seeing @RepLipinski at @AIPAC #Chicago event tonight, along with a few thousand passionate pro-#Israel Americans, who came out to support our great Ally. 🇺🇸🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/PxyPTTQp6n
— Elan Karoll (@elankaroll) May 31, 2019
After Newman’s victory was announced, Richard Goldberg, who was chief of staff for Illinois’s former GOP Governor Bruce Rauner, accused pro-Israel organizations of dropping the ball with this race. “Attention pro-Israel Democrats,” he tweeted, “You were warned. Where were you? Who is running your IE efforts? Who is doing your polling? This was completely preventable. But perhaps you put your disdain for Lipinski’s domestic views over your disdain for Newman’s views on Israel. Telling.”
Attention pro-Israel Democrats. You were warned. Where were you? Who is running your IE efforts? Who is doing your polling? This was completely preventable. But perhaps you put your disdain for Lipinski’s domestic views over your disdain for Newman’s views on Israel. Telling. https://t.co/Eghj50fDAV
— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) March 18, 2020
“Congressman Lipinski is an advocate for a strong national defense, a stalwart supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and an ardent proponent of efforts to counter the myriad of threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Goldberg told Jewish Insider, “When a group like IfNotNow is celebrating a primary outcome, you know this is a big loss and embarrassment for pro-Israel Democrats.”
Goldberg was referring to a tweet that the IfNotNow account posted last night. “An enormous win for those of us working towards a future where all people, including Palestinians and Israelis, can thrive. The incumbent [Dan Lipinski] was one of AIPAC’s most loyal Democrats. The difference in approach by [Marie Newman] will be a welcome change.”
An enormous win for those of us working towards a future where all people, including Palestinians and Israelis, can thrive.
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) March 18, 2020
JVP Action, the political advocacy wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, also celebrated the results:
Some very welcome good news! https://t.co/W5k159Qvvp
— JVP Action (@JvpAction) March 18, 2020