In a major win for pro-choice activists specifically and for progressive Democrats generally who don’t like their party’s reflexive support for each and every congressional incumbent, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Cheri Bustos has canceled a DCCC fundraiser for her fellow Illinois House member Dan Lipinski, who’s in a tough primary against an opponent more in line with Democratic positions on abortion and other issues. The New York Times has the story:
Ms. Bustos did not say directly why she was backing out of the planned $1,000-per-person breakfast in Chicago next month for Representative Daniel Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat facing a progressive primary challenger who supports abortion rights. But she left little doubt her decision was driven by her party’s anger over the new abortion laws in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and elsewhere — and rising fears that Roe v. Wade could be in jeopardy.
“I’m proud to have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and I’m deeply alarmed by the rapidly escalating attacks on women’s access to reproductive care in several states,” Ms. Bustos said in a statement.
As my colleague Sarah Jones reported earlier this month, an array of progressive and reproductive-rights groups had defied DCCC warnings against support for Lipinski’s primary opponent, Marie Newman (who gave him a close race in 2018):
The DCCC recently formalized a policy that penalizes vendors and consultants who work for insurgent candidates taking on incumbent Democrats. A consultant who signs on to work for Newman’s campaign can expect to be blocked from working for the DCCC — a significant disincentive. Last month Politico reported that Newman’s campaign had already lost four consultants as a result of the blacklist. But Monday’s endorsements could tip the odds back in Newman’s favor. Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America are major allies for the Democratic Party, and their support may well embolden consultants to defy the blacklist.
The canceled fundraiser signals that Bustos and indirectly the House Democratic leadership may be throwing in the towel on Lipinski, or at least making him pay his own freight.
We will now, of course, hear alarums about Lipinski being “purged” by angry leftists who can no longer tolerate a “big tent” party and are driving anti-abortion Democrats into the arms of the GOP. Trouble is, Lipinski’s Cook County district is safely Democratic enough that any tent erected by Newman will likely be more than big enough. And the broader principle here isn’t an ideological “litmus test” but rather the willingness of the House leadership and the party Establishment to accept primary challenges to incumbents in the right circumstances. Lipinski strayed from Democratic loyalty on issues other than abortion: He opposed, for example, the Affordable Care Act and wouldn’t support Barack Obama’s reelection. He’s rightly on his own.