Congressional primaries heat up across Illinois

By Lauren Grimaldi

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 9.10.46 PM

Photo courtesy of Newman Campaign.

With the 2018 primary season well underway, focus is shifting to a few Congressional seats that could flip parties. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan faces challengers of his own in Wisconsin amid reports he’s considering retiring from Congress prior to November.

In Illinois, political races are heating up with the possibility of certain long serving members being voted out of office.

Peter Roskam, a Republican serving Illinois’ sixth Congressional district, has faced tremendous criticism for his support of President Donald Trump’s policies. The Republican has been in office since 2006 and has won by a wide margin each election since, according to Ballotpedia.

Roskam faces no challengers in the Republican primary, but Democratic challengers could prove to be make the race much closer than in recent years. Kelly Mazeski, the leading fundraiser on the Democratic side for the sixth district, is one particularly intriguing candidate that could make a difference. She faces six other challengers for the Democratic nomination.

Mazeski has served a village trustee in North Barrington for 18 years and is a small business owner in the town. She has made healthcare a top priority in her campaign drawing a stark contrast with Roskam who has been working with his Republican colleagues to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Mazeski has been endorsed by Emily’s List, the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association, Representative Jan Schakowsky and Representative Cheri Bustos.

Though the Republican Roskam has been in office for over ten years, the district voted largely in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The representative has faced significant backlash during the Trump presidency.

In April 2017, Roskam said he would not be doing town halls with his constituents because he found them to be unproductive. This has angered his district as he prepares to seek reelection in the fall.

It’s not just Republicans that are under scrutiny. Democrat Daniel Lipinski is facing a significant primary challenge from Marie Newman, a Democratic candidate for Illinois 3rd Congressional District. Lipinski is one of the last remaining conservative Democrat in Congress. The incumbent has an edge over his challenger in funding, but Newman has received many endorsements in the race thus far.

Our Revolution Illinois, Reclaim Chicago and NARAL Pro-Choice America are just a few of the progressive organizations that have endorsed Newman in the primary.

In contrast, Lipinski has voted against abortion rights, the LGBTQ community and many other progressive issues. He was one of the sole Democrats to vote against the Affordable Care Act during its initial passage.

Still, Lipinski refutes the idea that he isn’t a Democrat. According to Politico, the representative believes himself to be more of a moderate that won’t always be tied to what the party wants him to do.

“There are people who just want me to follow in line and vote however the party says… We have gotten to a point where everything is black and white. You are either for something in theory or against something in theory, when a lot of these things come down to: What are the details? Let’s try and get the policy right,” Lipinski said, according to Politico.

Newman represents an alternative progressive for those in the third district that are unhappy with Lipinski’s record. Her top priorities include health care, helping working families and education.

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