WASHINGTON — New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the latest high-profile Democrat to take the unusual step of opposing a colleague's re-election by endorsing a progressive challenger to Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski.
Ocasio-Cortez, who herself defeated a long-serving Democrat in a primary, backed insurgent Marie Newman on Tuesday against Lipinksi, a moderate who has broken with party orthodoxy on abortion and other issues while representing a Democratic-leaning district in Chicago.
"I am thrilled to receive the endorsement of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," Newman said in a statement. "Her unwavering dedication to fighting for social, climate and economic justice is a true inspiration."
Ocasio-Cortez joins some of the country's most prominent progressive names in backing Newman, including presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and liberal groups like Planned Parenthood, Emily's List, MoveOn, and Indivisible.
Newman challenged Lipinski last year and fell short, but quickly declared she would run again in 2020.
In the re-match, Newman has garnered institutional support quicker than she did in 2018, but Lipinski is also better prepared for the challenge and vowed to fight hard.
Lipinki's office did not immediately return a request for comment.
The congressman has the backing of party campaign leaders in Washington, who have threatened to blacklist any vendors who do work for Newman's campaign.
High-profile Democratic primaries are becoming more common, thanks in part to the attention garnered by Ocasio-Cortez and others, although the New York lawmaker herself has not been as quick to support primary challenges as some expected she would.
"We are so proud that Marie Newman is the first Justice Democrat of this cycle to receive an endorsement from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats, which has supported many of the anti-establishment primary bids. "The momentum is growing in our movement to make the Democratic Party fight for solutions as big as the problems we face and create a party of voters, not corporate donors."