March 21, 2018
Planned Parenthood is betting $20 million that it can change the outcome of the midterm elections. And in yesterday's Illinois primary, they lost a lot of money trying. America's largest abortion business-turned-campaign-donor had been determined to knock off one of the Left's biggest nuisances, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a candidate who wouldn't fight to defund them. In the end, they not only lost their bid to beat one of few pro-life Democrats in Congress -- they showed how popular his brand of social conservativism can be.
In the incredibly shrinking tent of the Democratic Party, Congressman Lipinski is used to going it alone. When the last few elections managed to wipe out the Hill's crop of moderate Democrats, Lipinski survived. But, in a post-Obama party that demands 100-percent extremism on abortion, he's been left to fend for himself -- usually in battles against his own bosses. So far, that's worked out just fine for Lipinski, who hasn't budged from his belief that you can be a Democrat and still support the dignity of the unborn.
And while the national party may have abandoned him, voters haven't. By a 51-49 margin, they lined up to put Lipinski one step closer to an eighth term. That is, if his opponent, businesswoman Marie Newman, ever comes to grips with it. Last night, the darling of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the Human Rights Campaign pettily told reporters that she would not concede. "I would like to make Mr. Lipinski have a very painful evening," she said bitterly, "so we're going to wait." Well, she can't wait all she wants, but the message from Illinois is clear: Americans want leaders who share their cautious approach to abortion.
Like us, NRO's Alexandra DeSantis thinks the DNC needs to rethink its strategy and come to grips with the reality of the political landscape.
"Lipinski's victory is a win for the notion that Democratic politicians can be pro-life and survive within a party that's swiftly becoming more radical on the issue -- an important victory for the notion that defending innocent human life need not be a matter of purely partisan politics... [H]e remains one of only a handful of Democrats in Congress willing to vote for anti-abortion legislation such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act or the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act."
Of course, Democrats got a glimpse of this in Pennsylvania with Conor Lamb. He, too, positioned himself like a moderate Democrat -- one who supported guns and claimed (somewhat disingenuously) to be pro-life. Rural voters responded to his promises of social restraint, sending Lamb to a surprising victory in a Trump-heavy district. But the reality is, he won by portraying himself as a conservative -- which, if we're honest, is the Democrats' only real path to victory. If Lipinski's party wants to take back the majority, it means dialing back the radicalism on bathrooms, gender, sexuality, faith, firearms, and a host of policies that turn off the majority of everyday Americans.
And Democrats aren't the only ones who are paying for straying. Liberal Republicans like Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner very nearly lost his reelection bid to a state legislator that pundits nearly laughed off the stage last fall. Down 45 points in October, Jeanne Ives made up the gap, thanks to major social missteps by Rauner. After he became the first Republican governor to reinstate funding for Planned Parenthood, the base was stunned. Their outrage only grew when he worked to ban therapy options for kids with same-sex attractions, change genders on birth certificates, and force pro-life nurses, doctors, and pregnancy care centers to refer for abortions. Despite a huge war chest, Ives came very close -- within three points -- of sending the governor to a stunning defeat. One more month of campaigning and she might have pulled it off. Either way, the results are clear: social issues not only matter in the elections, they may very well decide them!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.