Endorsements for the US House: Lipinski, Fricilone, Emmons Jr., Kelly
The Tribune begins endorsements for contested races in the March 17 Illinois primary with these U.S. House recommendations.
3rd District Democrats
In this year’s presidential primaries, Democrats are engaged in an intense contest of ideas between centrist and progressive candidates. In the Chicago area, one U.S. House race has the same epic feel: Rep. Dan Lipinski’s battle to retain his 3rd Congressional District seat.
Strictly speaking, Lipinski is neither centrist nor progressive. His pro-life views identify him as one of the few conservative Democrats in the chamber. But Lipinski plays up his bipartisan bona fides as he faces a nationally prominent progressive challenger, Marie Newman, in a district that’s shifted left. That’s why this is a hot race.
Lipinski vs. Newman is a rematch of the 2018 primary. Lipinski squeaked to victory in that one. This time there are two more Democrats on the ballot, Rush Darwish and Charles M. Hughes.
Lipinski, of Western Springs, sells himself as a workhorse who pays attention to local issues such as funding for transportation. He says he recently helped deliver $150 million for a rail underpass in Chicago and $6 million for an air traffic control tower in Romeoville.
Seeking his ninth term, Lipinski has been in sync with the district for a long time. But Lipinski warns that Democrats risk a wrenching schism if they swallow the progressive agenda Newman espouses. “We now have a tea party of the left forming, which would be disaster for the party and for our country,” Lipinski said at a Tribune Editorial Board forum. A “big tent” is vital for Democrats, he said.
Newman, of La Grange, who is prochoice, retorts, “There’s room for everybody as long as your main goal is to create an economy that works for everybody.” That’s a clue to her more leftward lean: She supports two of the highest-profile, bigscale progressive causes — a switch to government-run health insurance and the so-called Green New Deal environmental agenda.
She supports the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, but ultimately sees Medicare for All as the best option for Americans. It would be paid for, she told us in her Tribune Editorial Board candidate questionnaire, “by raising taxes on ultra-billionaires and appropriating federal funds to ensure the process is administered smoothly.” The Green New Deal, Newman said, is “a means to modernize our economy.”
We’re concerned that such massive government spending programs are unworkable and unaffordable. Lipinski’s outlook, which includes participation in the House bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, is both more moderate and realistic. Lipinski is endorsed.
3rd District Republicans
In the Republican primary for the 3rd Congressional District, our full-throated endorsement goes to Mike Fricilone ,a member of the Will County Board. It’s vital Fricilone wins because one of his opponents, Arthur J. Jones, is an odious crackpot.
“We have a white supremacist, a racist, running on the ticket for our party,” Fricilone tells us, accurately describing Jones, a Holocaust denier and Nazi sympathizer. “It doesn’t do anybody any good for any party to have somebody like that running.”
Jones’ participation in the race is an abomination and recurring embarrassment to the Illinois Republican Party. In 2018, Jones ran unopposed in the primary, effectively sneaking past sleeping party officials who were so disinterested in competing in this Democratic stronghold that they didn’t make the effort to recruit a credible candidate. Nor did they notice that Jones intended to be the GOP candidate. By the time Republicans snapped to attention, it was too late: Jones wound up on the general election ballot.
We imagine Jones likes the notoriety, which we are loathe to advance, because here he is, back on the ballot. The AntiDefamation League calls Jones a longtime neo-Nazi. “If I really believed the Holocaust had taken place, I wouldn’t have joined the Nazi Party,” he once said of his past affiliation. On his website, Jones endorses the idea of federally sanctioned, Christian white-only neighborhoods. Enough of him.
We’re relieved Jones has credible challengers this time around, including Catherine A. O’Shea, of Oak Lawn. Fricilone, a sales executive from Homer Glen, is most qualified. His original motivation for entering the race was to oppose Jones.
Fricilone is a fiscal conservative who has served on the Will County Board for seven years. “We have way too much government, too much waste,” he says. “If we can make services better while not continually increasing taxes, that’s the path I want to go down.”
Fricilone is endorsed. Please support him and send a message to Jones.
1st District Democrats
Rep. Bobby Rush has served the solidblue 1st Congressional District since 1993, but frankly, it’s been a long time since he’s provided constituents with distinguished representation. This South Side/south suburban district, beset by gun violence and economic hardship, needs someone with enthusiasm and energy in Washington. We see strong leadership potential in Robert Emmons Jr.
Emmons, a 27-year-old nonprofit executive from Auburn Gresham, has the right motivation. He says his campaign is about ending gun violence. “We need to call out gun violence for what it is: a public health epidemic caused by social and economic instability,” he told us in his candidate questionnaire. Emmons says there are violence prevention groups in Chicago neighborhoods that are models for community activism and that deserve more federal support. He’s committed to being more accessible to constituents than Rush, whose low visibility in Chicago communities has long concerned us. “I want them to feel that they can touch what we’re fighting for and who I am,” Emmons says.
Also running are Sarah Gad, a University of Chicago law student, and Ameena Nuur Matthews, an anti-violence activist who was featured in the documentary “The Interrupters.”
We favor Emmons, who’s respectful of Rush’s service but eager to give constituents more energetic service. As Emmons says: “Part of living in my community and respecting my elders is challenging them.” Emmons is endorsed. Philanise White is running unopposed in the Republican primary.
2nd District Democrats
Rep. Robin Kelly, of Matteson, whose 2nd Congressional District includes southern Cook County, is passionate and pragmatic. It’s an approach we appreciate. She has a signature issue — gun violence prevention — but a broad portfolio of interests, ranging from women’s health issues and prescription drug pricing to job creation.
We’d rather Kelly not spend time promoting a Peotone airport that no longer seems necessary, but even there she’s thinking about her district the right way: as a potential engine of Illinois economic growth. Running against Kelly in the primary is Marcus Lewis, of Matteson. Theresa J. Raborn is unopposed on the Republican side. Kelly is endorsed.
Rep. Dan Lipinski
Robert Emmons Jr.
Rep. Robin Kelly