Eaton: Lipinski gets chance to show where he stands on Obamacare
By Fran Eaton Always Right/illinoisreview.typepad.com July 10, 2012 9:06PM
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:45AM
The first thing a campaign adviser will tell a challenger he or she has to do to oust an incumbent is to cause voters to be dissatisfied. For GOP challenger in the 3rd Congressional District Rich Grabowski, that may be his biggest and most difficult obstacle.
Who could ever be unhappy with mild-mannered and independent Congressman Dan Lipinski? He’s received accolades from social conservative groups like Christian Coalition and Lake County Right to Life. He stood with just a few Democrats against the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring the federal government to fund abortions.
GovTrack.us shows the son of former Congressman Bill Lipinski as a centrist Democrat, with as many House members ideologically to his left as to his right. He’s sponsored numerous bipartisan bills and he’s working on efforts to counter the jobs bleed here in Illinois.
But the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District expands far beyond Lipinski’s home turf in the Democrat safe 19th Ward. The 3rd District now extends southwest out into more conservative areas of Will and Cook counties, including Will’s Lemont, Lockport, New Lenox and the northeast corner of Joliet and Crest Hill. Voters in those areas are concerned about issues like the Second Amendment and job opportunities.
Lipinski consistently is planted on the fence, frustrating the more liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. Last week, Lipinski voted “present” on the attempt to call Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for not cooperating with Rep. Darrell Issa’s requests for information on the Fast and Furious debacle.
“... House Republicans ... appear to be intent on provoking a partisan battle by rushing ahead with this contempt vote at a time when it is more bipartisan cooperation that is sorely needed,” Lipinski said via press release. Instead, he defended Holder: “Attorney General Holder has testified nine times about Fast and Furious, produced 7,600 documents, and expressed an interest in reaching an agreement to produce more documents. And a sitting cabinet member has never been held in contempt by the House of Representatives before.
“Rather than voting ‘yes’ and escalating this dispute and moving toward uncharted waters, or voting ‘no’ and sending a message of support for the Attorney General’s actions up until this point, my ‘present’ vote sends a message to both sides: sit down and seek a resolution that addresses all legitimate concerns, and preserve a proper check and balance in federal government,” said Lipinski.
That’s the very type of middle-of-the-road position that frustrates Grabowski, who is trying to get 3rd Congressional District voters to take a look at Lipinski’s votes. Grabowski, who lives in Oak Lawn, doesn’t mince words about Illinois’ Democrat political machine.
“Dan Lipinski is Mike Madigan’s hand-picked congressman,” Grabowski said Saturday at a fundraiser in Palos Park. “Let’s help socially and fiscally conservative Reagan Democrats to distance themselves from the mob style, terrorist intimidation tactics; the racist, crony, socialist, liberal-leaning Madigan Democrats for the past 40 years,” the manufacturing plant supervisor said.
It’s going to be tough to oust Lipinski, he admits. “I’m David taking on Goliath.”
A husband and father of four boys, Grabowski’s only chance of stirring interest in his race is to make it about the Democratic party as a whole. People in the 3rd Congressional District probably wouldn’t delight in the thought of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid at Congress’ helm again, especially with Barack Obama in the White House.
With those two leading Democrats back in charge of Congress, we could expect more Obamacare legislation to pass, more union-favoring stimulus packages and higher taxes. There would be none of the checks and balances Lipinski says he favors — and none of the gridlock Americans find comfort in seeing in D.C.
Grabowski has no family ties that can help him get elected that Dan Lipinski has. All he has is the backbone and courage it takes to challenge the status quo. And while that’s notable in Illinois’ Democrat-bullied Republican Party, it’s not enough. Grabowski needs a break and a reason to draw the D.C. Republicans’ attention to his race.
Grabowski needs the incumbent to do something like what happened in the 17th Congressional District in 2010, when the Democrat incumbent Congressman Phil Hare, of East Moline, was caught on tape telling a concerned constituent that he didn’t care what the Constitution said. Before that major blunder hit the internet and became a YouTube sensation, no one had heard of now-Congressman Bobby Schilling except his devoted family. When Hare shrugged off the Constitution, he riled 17th Congressional District voters and paved the way for an unexpected upset for Schilling.
In the 8th Congressional District, Congresswoman Melissa Bean was shocked to find on Election Night 2010 she had lost her seat in Congress to the hard-working, Tea Party energized and outspoken now-Congressman Joe Walsh. Walsh was ignored by his own GOP and helped across the finish line by independent voters fed up with where the Democrats were taking the country.
This week, Dan Lipinski will have a chance to show the voters of the 3rd Congressional District where he stands on repealing Obamacare when the Republicans bring it up in Congress.
If he votes “present” again, Grabowski may get a chance to add another weak-spined vote to Lipinski’s Fast and Furious “present.”
Then the people of the 3rd Congressional District will know just how independent Congressman Lipinski isn’t.
Fran Eaton is a Southland resident who co-founded and edits the conservative political blog, illinoisreview.com