Four Democratic challengers backed by United Working Families (linked with the progressive Working Families Party) have successfully challenged establishment Dems backed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable "Democratic machine," effectively winning their offices at the same time, because the Democrat candidate always gets elected to those offices, thanks to Republicans not bothering to field candidates (leaving a vacuum that is sometimes filled by Holocaust-denying Illinois Nazis).
The four upsets include the office of the County Assessor (who determines property taxes — traditionally an office that was able to trade favors for large Democratic Machine cash "contributions"), which went to Fritz Kaegi, who campaigned on a promise to eliminate the racial bias in assessments that overtaxed black and Latino neighborhoods to subsidize affluent white neighborhoods. Kaegi's opponent raked in millions in campaign contributions from property tax-appeal lawyers, and won the endorsement of the Dem establishment, including state house speaker Mike Madigan and Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
Other upsets: Aaron Ortiz beat Daniel J. Burke in a state-house nomination bid; Ortiz campaigned for legal marijuana, free college tuition, single payer healthcare, and an end to cash bail.
Another house race was upset by teacher's union organizer Brandon Johnson, beating Richard Boykin, and Delia Ramirez easily took the 4th House District nomination.
United Working Families is elated at the wins; the campaigns were financed by small-money donations that delivered the nominations to four young people of color who'd never held office before — it's a major upset for the Democratic machine.
It's not all good news, though. Dan Lipinski kept his candidacy, despite having inherited his Congressional seat from his father and having voted against a $15 minimum wage, against abortion on demand, for mass surveillance and endless war, and against basic railroad safety rules that would have affected one of his largest campaign donors, a rail industry PAC.
Lipinski was being challenged by Marie Newman, who ultimately outraised him with small-money donations from Sanders Democrats, and who lost the primary by a razor-thin margin. That's something of a victory — Lipinksi had been considered unassailable and he only won by a handful of votes — but it still seems like Lipinski will return to Congress as a Democrat-in-name-only. But the closeness of the race may inspire other primary challengers to establishment Dems in other seemingly unassailable positions.
The downballot wins, said United Working Families Executive Director Emma Tai, say as much for this moment as they do for the future of the movement, which is finally rebuilding a bench of talent. "The United Working slate was comprised of young people of color who were first time candidates. They took on big-money interests and the Democratic machine and they won," he said. "These victories didn't all happen just tonight. They come from long-term organizing that goes back to the 2015 elections that helped spawn robust independent political organization around Chicago. We're stand ready to take on the corporate Democrats who have let incarceration, violence, gentrification and unemployment ravage our communities. And tonight's results show that the voters are with us."
(Image: Allen McGregor, CC-BY)