Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed Marie Newman in the Democratic primary for the Chicago-area seat held by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski.
Sanders said Thursday Newman "has made it clear she will be a champion for working families" and will fight for issues such as a $15 minimum wage and gay rights.
Lipinski, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, is seeking his eighth term in the March 20 primary.
For the first time in 35 years, there is a competitive primary in Lipinski’s district, and the race is attracting national attention.
Lipinski is facing a strong challenge from Newman, who is calling attention to the troubles facing Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, a long-time supporter of the congressman.
“I’m pushing that boulder of the monarchy and the machine up (the hill) everyday,” she said.
Lipinski says he's delivered for his district, and calls Newman and her supporters a "tea party of the left" that will hurt the Democratic party.
Lipinski defended Madigan on Capitol Hill this week, saying that he is taking important steps in addressing issues in the legislature.
“The Speaker has taken some important steps in combating sexual harassment in Springfield and in the Democratic party of Illinois, and I think he needs to continue to move forward,” he said.
Also Thursday, the Chicago Tribune reported Newman and her husband went into business in 2014 with a felon who'd served prison time for a mortgage fraud scheme. Newman says they were unaware of the conviction and ended their involvement when they learned of it.