March 9, 2022

The phrase “in-and-out” has a bunch of connotations and permutations.

It describes a grocery shopping strategy. It also is the name of a West Coast burger chain, among other things.

However, in politics it describes the fate of a public official that is elected and then bounced at the next election.

U.S. Representative Marie Newman (D-3), the first-term congresswoman from the district which includes Chicago’s Southwest Side and a large swath of southwest and south suburbs, has taken this to a whole new level.

She was in Congress in 2020 and will be out of Congress in 2022. Where she goes  afterward is anyone’s guess.

6TH DISTRICT: On Oct. 21 the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) voted unanimously to refer Newman to the House Ethics Committee (HEC) after making a finding that Newman made a “de facto bribe” in late 2019 by offering pro-Palestinian activist Iymen Chehade a job on her prospective congressional payroll if he did not run against her in the 2020 Democratic primary. They actually signed a written contract and Chehade took a pass. Newman won, tried to renege, and was threatened with a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

It was settled when Newman put Chehade on her campaign payroll as a $54,000-a year foreign policy advisor - a job he apparently still holds while he is running for Congress in the 3rd District.  The contract also contains a promise by Newman to support BDS-related issues. BDS is the acronym for Boycott, Disinvest and Sanction, which is Palestine’s worldwide effort to punish Israel.

The investigation continues.

It was recently disclosed that Newman also offered a job to Shadlin Maah, then Chehade’s political director.

In February a group called Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Chehade’s continued presence on Newman’s payroll constitutes “witness interference,” since Chehade is expected to testify at a future hearing or trial. Another group called Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) chimed-in that Chehade’s ongoing payments constitute a “serious ethical question.” That, of course, begs the real question: Does anybody really expect responsible ethics in Washington?

Newman’s background is in non-profits that focused on anti-bullying, and she assembled a national coalition of 70 anti-bullying NPs. She ran for Congress in 2018 against Dan Lipinski (D), who got to Washington in the time-honored Chicago Way: His dad Bill gave him his seat. The elder Lipinski was 23rd Ward alderman when he ran in 1982. At the time the district was concentrated on Chicago’s Southwest Side and close-in suburbs. It was deemed the “Polish seat.”

Bill Lipinski filed for re-election in 2004 and got re-nominated, but then resigned in early autumn and had his fellow committeemen choose his kid, then a professor at the University of Tennessee, as his ballot replacement. Dan Lipinski won easily in 2004 and for six more terms until 2018, when Newman ran. Lipinski was fiercely anti-abortion. Among Democrats that’s intolerable.

As demographics changed and remaps made the district more suburban, Lipinski’s base withered. In 2018 Lipinski squeaked to a 48,675-46,539 win over Newman, a margin of 2,145 in a 95,208 turnout. Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, SEIU and the Leftist Democracy for America and Our Revolution backed Newman.

One huge demographic change was the influx of Middle-Eastern Muslims into Cook County’s south suburbs, especially around Bridgeview, where a mosque was built in 1981. The bulk of the Muslims were Palestinians. There is now a second mosque in Orland Park. There was also an influx of Arab Christians. And there in lay Newman’s conundrum. She did not want an Arab/Muslim opponent in her 2020 rematch. And that precipitate her alleged bribe.

Talk show host Rush Darwish ran, but national progressive groups coalesced behind and funded Newman. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Lori Lightfoot and AOC endorsed her. In an 110,852 turnout, up 15,644 over 2018, Newman won 52,384-49,688, getting 5,854 more votes than in 2018. Lipinski’s vote was up 1,013. Darwish got 6,351, or 5.7 percent.

But Springfield Democrats, cognizant of Newman’s ethical quagmire, produced a congressional remap for 2022 which created a new Latino-influenced 3rd District, and lumped Newman and incumbent Sean Casten (D-6) into a new 6th District, comprised of 40 percent of Newman’s current district, and 25 percent of Casten’s, which was centered in DuPage County. That means 35 percent know little about either. The new map excises all the DuPage Hispanics and puts them in the new 3rd District.

Not surprisingly Casten was endorsed by J Street PAC and Democratic Majority for Israel. He has $1, 580,171 on-hand. Newman is endorsed by 11 trade unions, congressional chairman Ro Khanna and two leftists. She has $573,120 on-hand. A Feb. 10 Victoria Research poll put the race at 37-37 with 26 percent undecided.

Outlook: The primary is June 28, so Casten has almost 4 months to enlighten 6th District voters about Newman’s campaign misdeeds. That means saturation anti-Newman mailers and media ads, for which he has an abundance of money. Turnout will be around 90,000. But Newman’s baggage, which is not yet too widely known (but will be by June 28), gets heavier by the day.

Casten will win with 55-60 percent.

And Newman might need to hire a good defense lawyer.

Rod Blagojevich got indicted by the feds for just discussing selling a Senate seat appointment and got 14 years in prison.

When will these politicians learn?

In other news, Republicans have a primary between some credible candidates: Burr Ridge mayor Gary Orland Park mayor Keith Pekau and businesswoman Niki Conforti. Should Newman stumble past the primary, the seat will definitely be “in-play.”

15TH DISTRICT: Does Donald Trump have any clout in Illinois, a state he lost by 1,025,023 votes in 2020? He certainly does in this far Downstate district, which encompasses 27 counties in mostly-rural west and central Illinois. Springfield mapmakers put incumbents Rodney Davis (R-13) and Mary Miller (R-15) in the new district, creating a clear contrast: Davis is a longtime party operative backed by the party establishment; Miller is a pro-Trump firebrand who happened to be in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, along with her husband Chris, a state representative.

Outlook: Trump has endorsed Miller. She will win.

In the 17TH DISTRICT, where Trump-is expected to endorse Esther Joy King, who will be the Republican nominee; she got 48 percent in 2020. The district wraps west from Rockford to the Mississippi River then south through Rock Island to Quincy. Incumbent Cheri Bustos (D) is retiring. The Democratic field includes 2 Rockford aldermen, Jonathan Logemann and Linda McNeely and Rockford state senator Steve Stadelman; that splits the Rockford vote. Rock Island county commissioner Angie Normoyle is running, but the favorites are ex-TV meteorologist Eric Sorenson and ex-state representative Litesa Wallace who ran for lieutenant governor in 2018.

A January PPP poll found 65 percent undecided with Wallace and Sorenson just over 10 percent. Outlook: Stadelman and Sorenson would keep the seat, but Wallace would lose to King.

1ST DISTRICT: This South Side seat has been held by an African-American politician since 1928, when Republican Oscar DePriest won it.  Harold Washington won it in 1980 and then became mayor in 1983, the same year Bobby Rush became an alderman. He was a Washington loyalist, won his congressional seat in 1992, ran for mayor, and spent 30 year in Washington. There are 13 candidates running to succeed him.

Rush is backing Karin Norington-Reaves, a former staffer and now CEO of a NFP jobs agency. Civil rights icon Jesse Jackson is backing his son Jonathan, a Rainbow/PUSH spokesman and construction company owner with labor support. Also running are 20-year state Senator Jacqueline Collins and Charise Williams, but the best-positioned is Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd), who aborted her Secretary of State bid but has an organization in place.

The district extends from the near South Loop to Frankfort, New Lenox and Mokena, through Markham, Oak Lawn, Robbins, Blue Island, Tinley Park and Orland Park. It has a 65 percent Black population. With a large field the June 28 winner needs just 25 percent of the expected 80,000 turnout.

Outlook: It’s a really tight race between Dowell and Jackson. 25,000 votes will win it.