Key Pro-Life Democrat Faces Pro-Abortion Primary Challenger

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 22, 2011   |   1:46PM   |   Chicago, IL

Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois is one of the few authentic pro-life Democrats left in Congress who both opposed the Obamacare legislation and also voted for efforts to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Now, the Chicago congressman will face a challenge from the left as a pro-abortion opponent has stepped up and raised significant funds to take on Lipinski. John Atkinson, a wealthy insurance executive and activists for government-run health care has already raised more than $535,000 during the first quarter of this year and Politico indicates that is more than any other Democratic congressional challenger anywhere in the country. The money is also four times the amount Lipinski raised during the same period.

Politico notes Atkinson has already signed top strategists, including Michael Rendina, who managed Alexi Giannoulias’s 2010 Senate campaign, and Washington-based pollster Jill Normington, who worked for pro-abortion former Illinois Rep. Melissa Bean.

“People are yearning for someone who’s interested in something other than ideology,” Atkinson said told the political news web site in referring to Lipinski’s pro-life views and votes. “I want to bring in a more temperate, calmer voice.”

Atkinson will also use the repeal vote against Lipinski and has attempted to tie the pro-life Democrat to pro-life Republican Speaker John Boehner.

Lipinski has responded to Atkinson’s challenge by defending his record rather than running away from it — telling Politico his vote against Obamacare was “the right thing to do for my constituents and the country as a whole. When I’m out in the district, people still stop me to thank me for my vote.”

Local Chicago 23rd Ward Alderman Michael Zalewski told the news web site that Lipinski will do well in a district that has many pro-life Catholic Democrats, many of whom did not support the federal takeover of the health care system.

“When the health care issue came up, the calls were three-to-one, four-to-one against the plan,” he said. “There are just a lot of people out here — particularly seniors who’ve lived here for a long time — who have never relied on the federal government for health care.”

Lipinski, the co-sponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” who will likely rely on support from pro-life groups, has been supported by various pro-life organizations during his four terms as a congressman.

He also is the co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus with pro-life Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican. “Dan Lipinski and I have—and will continue to—work hard together to provide needed protection for unborn children and their mothers,” Smith, who has been the co-chairman of the Caucus since 1982, told last year.

Lipinski, who was lauded by pro-life groups for standing up as one of the few pro-life Democrats to vote against ObamaCare over abortion funding, says he is committed to working with Smith and other pro-life lawmakers to protect unborn children.

“Protection of unborn children must be a legislative priority in the 112th Congress and I look forward to leading this bipartisan coalition of pro-life Members with Chris Smith as we continue our work to protect innocent human life,” he said.

Guy Benson, a writer at TownHall, a conservative web site, recently lauded Lipinski as one of the true pro-life Democrats left on Capital Hill, even though other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats have fallen away saying, “To be fair, by my count, there is at least one black swan in all of Congress on this front: Rep. Dan Lipinski of Chicago.  He speaks softly and genuinely walks the pro-life walk.  Credit where it’s due.”

Last year, Lipinski said “It was rather lonely, yes,” about being one of the few Democrats opposing Obamacare, “But I could not vote for a bill that would change the status quo on funding for abortion.” He will count on the voters of his Chicago district to make it so he is not lonely heading into next year’s primary.