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Sweet column: Can Rep. Dan Lipinski, installed in his seat by his dad, the former Rep. Bill Lipinski, survive Democratic primary challenge?


Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) lives in Western Springs -- that is, he moved there from Tennessee after his dad, former Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), lured him home with the promise that he would be handed his seat with the help of political sleight of hand.

Challenger John Sullivan, an attorney, is in the 19th Ward in Chicago, and rival John Kelly, an insurance broker who co-owns a tavern, lives in Oak Lawn.

For entire column, on the political makeup of the third congressional district, click here.

Democrat take all in 3rd District

March 9, 2006


Only one contested area congressional race will be decided for sure after the March 21 Illinois primary. That's in the 3rd Congressional District, where the winner of the three-way Democratic primary will be virtually assured of election in November.

The Republicans didn't even bother to field credible candidates in the district, stretching from the Southwest Side of Chicago to the adjacent suburbs.

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) lives in Western Springs -- that is, he moved there from Tennessee after his dad, former Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.), lured him home with the promise that he would be handed his seat with the help of political sleight of hand.

Challenger John Sullivan, an attorney, is in the 19th Ward in Chicago, and rival John Kelly, an insurance broker who co-owns a tavern, lives in Oak Lawn.

Kelly got in the race late and, because of what I consider a loophole in federal rules, will file campaign disclosures for the very first time only today. That's when we'll learn who has bankrolled Kelly's bid.

This race may prove that the conventional wisdom about this district -- that it is rock conservative Democratic, the home of what used to be called Reagan Democrats -- may just be wrong. A poll taken for Sullivan's campaign shows the district has some surprisingly moderate leanings. I usually don't write about a poll unless I can tell you who paid for it and I can see the whole book. The entire Sullivan district survey I studied -- taken in November by pollster Celinda Lake -- contains some surprises.

The most interesting political item to tuck away for present and future use is that Attorney General Lisa Madigan had the highest favorable rating in the poll: over (not in order) President Bush, Mayor Daley, Gov. Blagojevich, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dan Lipinski and, no surprise, Sullivan, a political rookie.

Then again, the 3rd CD contains the 13th Ward led by Madigan's stepfather, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), so you would expect that she would do well. Still, there is a germane point to make. Lisa Madigan is a progressive Democrat who supports abortion rights. Dan Lipinski is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, and Kelly, from what I gathered when we talked last week, is running to Lipinski's right. Sullivan, like Lisa Madigan, is in the progressive camp.

Asked to describe themselves politically, the likely Democratic primary voters said 31 percent were very liberal or somewhat liberal, 40 percent moderate, 24 percent somewhat or very conservative and 5 percent did not know.

The poll also shows that if enough people know about how William Lipinski sneaked his son into office, it will change their opinion of if he deserves another term. Happy to oblige.

Dan Lipinski spokesman Chris Ganschow told me Wednesday he does not think the senior Lipinski's political trickery will come home to deny his son a second term.

One-night stand: Obama/Cheney

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Lynne Cheney are the featured speakers at Saturday night's annual Gridiron Club Dinner, and Obama may make his public singing debut. It's a white tie or gown affair put on by journalists (all print reporters until just recently when the first TV person -- Tim Russert -- was admitted) and attended by President Bush.

Obama was a hit when he spoke at the Gridiron's winter dinner in December 2004, after he was elected and before he was sworn in. That's where he spawned the line, "I'm so overexposed that I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse.'' Well, if he was overexposed then, just what word is best to use to describe all that's been reported about Obama in the 13 months he's been a senator?

The latest big play is a page one story this week in USA Today, pegged to his role as Democratic quarterback on ethics legislation.

The Gridiron winter dinner was a small gathering. Saturday night's bash seats about 600. The pressure to be funny is huge. Because Lynne Cheney is speaking, at least we will know where Vice President Dick Cheney will be Saturday -- in a secure, disclosed location. Maybe she will make hunting jokes. Duck!

Obama's media consultant, David Axelrod, said Obama is tweaking the "substantially written'' script.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Gridiron Club and will be singing in the mighty Gridiron chorus.

Blogger Sweet

Just as candidates for office test the waters before making their bid official, I've been making an exploratory run myself -- as a blogger. I've been blogging for a few weeks, posting on a variety of subjects. I'll make an "official'' announcement later. Thanks to Austin Mayor, Zorn at the T, Archpundit, Daily Kos, CapitolFaxBlog and others for taking notice.

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Hi Lynn. If you are looking for 'votes' on the blog, I say "Please keep up the blogging". It really adds to the average readers' understanding of what's going on and it lets you write about things that might not deserve a full column, but, flesh out what's really going on in local politics.


Interesting stuff on the 3rd CD. Sullivan's poll confirms what I've suspected for a couple of years.

The 3rd CD went 58 percent for Kerry. And Kerry carried the supposed "Reagan Democrats" in the 11th, 13th, 19th, and 23rd Wards by about a 2 to 1 margin. Kerry also took Worth and Lyons Township, where Reagan and Bush Sr. won easily.

Don't get me wrong, the 3rd CD ain't Nancy Pelosi country, but it's not as conservative as it used to be.

Still, I don't like Sullivan's chances. He's had trouble getting traction and I hear the editorial boards were disappointed with his performance. He might finish third.

Lipinski is a very poor candidate. But he has his dad's name recognition going for him, not to mention the support of Madigan and the other ward organization. And organized labor is with him -- which will help in what is a heavy union district. Besides, Kelly and Sullivan will split the anti-Lipper vote, as well as the Irish vote in the 19th Ward and Worth Township.

Lipinski is very beatable -- but not by these guys.

I met John Sullivan 2 weeks ago, very knowledgable and well spoken progessive democrat, he even supports a one payor national healthcare system. He is very electable especially given his competition..he sure has my vote
Tom G

I attended a debate by all the 3rd District Candidates last week and while Lipinski doesn't sound as authoritative as his father he does have a firm grasp on the issues that affect the District. John Kelly seems to be formidable as well. Sullivan is a one issue candidate and always seemed to bring back any question to a root explanation of Universal Health Care will save all. He won't make it in this district. The two "Republicans", if you want to call them that don't have a snowball's chance.

As to the District leaning more liberal: I wouldn't be taken in by that. The Lyons Township and Worth voictories for Sen. Kerry are borne as much out of the irrational hatred for the President as anything. Running further left will not get you far in this district, at least not for very long.


Wouldn't that "irrational hatred" of Bush be indicative of a growing number of left-leaning voters? Or are these conservatives who hate Bush?

Dear Lynn,

Long time reader, first time caller - outstanding topic!

I am an open and proud Democrat for Kelly. The poll tells us that Demcocrats voted for Democratic candidates - Now that is something. The Progressive -pink "I had an Abortion and I Love Wahabist Mullahs Because I embrace Diversity" crowd has convinced some in the media that 'the times are a-changin' in the 3rd. That will be a shock to the crowd at Bobak's, or the framers putting up houses out in Alsip. John Sullivan lives two blocks from me - nice man - but the political wizards who helped Ralph Nader a few votes back have convinced him that he is a statesman.

You need to be a politician before you can become a statesman, at least that's how this 3rd District voter and his neighbors feel.

A politician is a good thing - terrible NPR imitation - no really. Progressives sneer at the word, but they sneer at most everything the flag, faith, friendship, fidelity, and freedom.

Now maybe all of the political insiders have a lock on how this race will go down, but as a voter, I need to go with John T. Kelly. Hell, in a better day they would have called him Honest John Kelly - hey, I kinda like that.

Poor Sullivan took money from an Islamist Charity that has been linked to terrorism and should run for office on the Lakefront or some other Progressive community. The working stiifs will go with Honest John Kelly.

Dan Lipinski? Great Dad. He knew where he lived.


Even though Dan Lipinski may be a decent and educated individual, we feel that he is not qualified to handle the issues of his district. This of course includes his underlings who thought that they would have a share of the Congressional pie prior to his father's intervention. Currently, we believe there is no individual qualified or experienced enough to have the power in Washington to provide additional revenue for the district or handle important issues; especially in transportation, education, or revitilization of the immediate area.
We wish that district the best of luck!

---question to ``sunset.'' who is we?


"We" is a normal introduction to our firm-The Sunset Media Group. The comments were written on behalf of all of us here and not one individual. Next time, if you wish-we will only provide one person's name. Sorry for any inconvenience whatsoever.

no inconvenience--lynn

To anon -

No, Democratic doesn't always mean left leaning and there is a lot of irrational hatred by the uninformed omn both sides. Pat Hickey described the District well.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 9, 2006 8:48 AM.

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6th CD race: Rep. Henry Hyde predicts ``bloodbath'' to replace him. / He meets today with Condi Rice is the next entry in this blog.

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