Just when you think Illinois politics can’t get any weirder … it does.
This week, WBEZ’s politics team digs into the heated primary race between U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski and challenger Marie Newman that could be a bellwether for where the Democratic Party is headed. The team also breaks down the flurry of campaign donations made by Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker — and why they’re causing a dustup.
And last but not least, WBEZ’s Dave McKinney walks listeners through what happened after a state hearing on the deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak, when he tried to get answers from officials in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.
Here are some highlights for this week’s Illinois Elections 2018 podcast, which also includes host Becky Vevea and WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel and Tony Arnold. You can get the podcast delivered to you every week by subscribing here.
National spotlight on U.S Rep Dan Lipinski vs. Marie Newman
Mariah Woelfel: [This primary race] is largely being portrayed as a case study for where the Democratic Party is headed in a time of divisive politics, where a left-leaning candidate, in this case Marie Newman, says the time is up for tolerating Lipinski’s conservative positions.
Becky Vevea: So what are the biggest differences between these two candidates? What are their positions?
Woelfel: There are a few. Newman attacks Lipinski for his position on gay marriage, calling him anti-LGBTQ. Lipinski says he supports gay marriage as the law of the land, but he has in the past voted for legislation that critics say is a blow to equality. Lipinski is anti-abortion, and Newman supports abortion rights. She would definitely argue there’s no room for anti-abortion Democrats in Congress.
Lipinski is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. He’s voted against Obamacare and against the DREAM Act, but he touts those positions as evidence that’s he’s willing to reach across the aisle.
Democrat Chris Kennedy accuses J.B. Pritzker of buying black Chicago committeeman in gubernatorial primary
Tony Arnold: This is really just a peek behind the curtain of how ward organizations around Chicago work, how they get their organizations to do political work and convince voters to punch the ballot for their guy.
Kennedy says that when J.B. Pritzker gives $10,000 or $15,000 to a ward organization, that’s pay to play. So what Kennedy is asserting here is that Pritzker is buying African-American votes.
Vevea: What are the committeemen saying about this pay-to-play accusation?
Arnold: A lot of those committeemen end up being Chicago aldermen, and a few of the aldermen whose ward organizations have accepted J.B. Pritzker were ready for this. They had a press conference in response.
Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) said all campaigns do this sort of thing. Burnett also said that if Kennedy ends up winning the primary, then guess what? Those same ward organizations, like his, are going to expect money from Kennedy because they’re going to need that money to help him get the vote out in November.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire podcast, which was adapted to the web by Hunter Clauss.
Editor’s note: Chicago Public Media receives philanthropic support from The Pritzker Foundation. J.B. Pritzker, who is campaigning for governor in the Democratic Primary, is not involved with the foundation and does not contribute to it.