Crain’s Chicago Business: “Abortion rights bona fides become an issue in Dem primaries”

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Rep. Newman hits Rep. Casten in a new ad as Dems vie to show who’d be the strongest in resisting impact of a Roe v. Wade repeal.

Rep. Marie Newman ad

The impending repeal of Roe v. Wade not only is sharpening differences between Democrats and Republicans here this election year. It’s also set off maneuvering among Chicago-area Democrats to demonstrate who’s the biggest advocate for abortion rights as the June 28 primary nears.

The issue is particularly acute in extremely competitive races for Congress and in the hotly contested battle for Illinois Secretary of State. Three of those four races have pretty much come down to a choice between two leading candidates, one a man and the other a woman, and political consultants say at least some impact from the abortion decision is inevitable.

The issue is most obvious in the race between two Democratic incumbents, Marie Newman and Sean Casten, in the new 6th Congressional District that covers the Southwest Side and much of the western suburbs.

Newman, who upset anti-abortion rights House veteran Dan Lipinski two years ago, is hitting the issue hard again, even though Casten—unlike Lipinski—says he’s pro-choice.

In an opinion piece written for CNN a few days ago, Newman wrote about her experience in having an abortion at age 19, when she was a college student “already working two jobs, which hardly covered enough money to support myself.” Beyond that, she wrote, “As a teenager barely out of childhood myself, I simply was not ready to take on the monumental responsibility of becoming a parent.”

Newman picks up that theme in a new campaign ad that starts airing on cable TV today. She then suggests she can be trusted on the issue unlike Casten, who “voted for anti-choice Republicans like George (H.W.) Bush.”

Casten’s campaign responds that he indeed did favor Bush for a variety of reasons—two decades ago—but that his and Newman’s views on abortion rights are “identical.”

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