Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, narrowly won a primary Tuesday over a progressive newcomer who argued the congressman's views no longer reflect the Chicago-area district he has represented for seven terms.
The call was made by The Associated Press early Wednesday morning, but the primary battle between Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman for Illinois' 3rd Congressional District remained too close to call for much of Tuesday night.
With 95 percent of precincts reporting by 10:47 p.m., Lipinski led Newman by 1,589 votes in a race that garnered national attention as a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.
By Wednesday morning, 97 percent of precincts had reported with Lipinski leading by just under 1,600 votes.
U.S. & World
But Newman refused to concede until "every vote is counted," saying late Tuesday that she wanted Lipinski "to have a very painful evening" and calling for a news conference Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.
"I’m not ready to give in because you all have worked way too hard," Newman told supporters, adding, "the fight is not over."
Just hours before it was set to begin, Newman canceled the press conference, instead releasing a statement thanking her supporters.
“I entered this race to fight for the rights of the hardworking people in Illinois’ Third District. Our campaign was built on achieving that," the statement read. "Last night, we wanted to make sure that every vote was counted, that every voice was heard. We believed there was a possibility of victory. After reviewing the results, we know that we lost by a thin margin. It was a good fight and I am so proud of the grassroots movement we built with hundreds of volunteers and partners all over the district."
Lipinski is a seven-term lawmaker who took over the seat from his father and is seen as one of the most conservative Congressional Democrats. He's positioned himself against abortion rights, voted against the Affordable Care Act, and has taken other, more conservative stances on issues like immigration.
In contrast, marketing consultant and anti-bullying advocate Newman painted herself as a grassroots candidate advocating for policies like universal healthcare, paid family leave and more.
She's earned backing from various groups like Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, and more, as well as rare endorsements from sitting Democrats, Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schawkowsky. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won the 2016 Democratic presidential primary in the district, threw his support behind Newman.
The race has pitted centrist and progressive voters against one another and received national attention.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Arthur Jones, the Holocaust-denying former leader of the American Nazi Party who managed to get onto the Republican primary ballot unopposed.
The district, encompassing Chicago's Southwest Side and its surrounding suburbs, is a Democratic stronghold, all but guaranteeing the primary winner a victory in November.