Arab groups divided on Illinois 3rd Congressional District battle
Three of Illinois’ leading political organizations released endorsements in key elections in Illinois’ March 17, 2020 Democratic Primary races. Although all three endorsed the same candidates, they differed on one key contest, the closely contested battle for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District held by incumbent Dan Lipinski. Lipinski is being challenged by Marie Newman and Arab American Rush Darwish
The Arab American Democratic Club (AADC) and the Future News newspaper each issued cards endorsing candidates in the March 17, 2020 Democratic Primary elections, which has more challenges than in the Republican Party primary.
AADC is headed by Samir Khalil and the Future News is headed by Mansour Tadros. A third Arab American organization, AMVOTE, headed by former Judge Bill Haddad, did not issue endorsements in races outside of countywide contests, such as for president, or Congress, although Haddad noted mentioned AMVOTE is a “state PAC” and is “prohibited” from making federal endorsements. (Haddad noted he supported Rush Darwish for Congress.)
While there are many similarities, the three groups represent the majority of voting Arab Americans in the Chicagoland area, but differed on only a few races.
The two groups, AADC and Future New, both endorsed Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for President over former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has consistently denounced Palestinian rights and Arab rights and declared himself a “Zionist” in interviews in 2007 and 2009. Sanders, who is Jewish American and a strong supporter of Israel, has spoken ferociously in defense of Palestinian rights and has criticized Israel’s racist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Future News and the AADC differed in one important and for the Arab community controversial race in the 3rd Congressional District where five-term incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski is being challenged again by powerful candidate Marie Newman. Newman came within 2,200 votes of unseating Lipinski in 2018 and is running an even stronger campaign this year. But this election has one more candidate, Rush Darwish, a media and videographer.
The Future News is endorsing Marie Newman while the AADC is endorsing Rush Darwish, reflecting the division in the race in the Arab American community itself.
Darwish is expected to attract about half of the Arab votes away from Newman, mainly from the Muslim community while Newman has the support of many Christian Arabs. The bottom line is that Darwish’s support is generally an anti-Lipinski support, votes that would otherwise have gone to Newman.
But despite the voter draw away from Newman, many pundits are predicting that she may still overcome Lipinski despite Darwish’s candidacy. The question for Darwish is how many votes will he get in this contest and can he use out to launch another race in a future election.
The likelihood of defeating an incumbent are difficult in Illinois and Lipinski could survive as he has done since he was appointed in 2005 to succeed his father, former Congressman Bill Lipinski. But the big question is how with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic impact the election today.
The virus has its greatest impact on seniors and adults above the age of 50, unlike the Swine Flu (H1N1) Pandemic which targeted mostly young people and children in 2009. Seniors are traditionally the foundation of the voter base of incumbents but seniors who did not vote in early voting before the Pandemic turned into a “lockdown” hysteria, may stay home today and may not vote. If they don’t vote, that will hurt Lipinski more than the challengers.
For Arab Americans in Illinois, the race in the 3rd Congressional District, which has the largest concentration of Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arab voters, is the race to watch.
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