Quick Hit Robert Dietz Wednesday April 20th, 2011, 2:10pm

Conservative Lipinski Draws Well-Funded Primary Challenger

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (3rd District) was one of just 34 Democrats in the House to oppose President Obama's sweeping health care reform, and one local, well-funded candidate is betting that's enough to cost him his seat in Congress. John Atkinson, an executive at Willis Group and an outspoken health care activist, is raising eyebrows with a hefty fundraising haul, and the moves of someone who will take on the heir of a Southwest Side political dynasty.

Recent campaign finance filings show that Atkinson has raised $530,000 in the first quarter of the year ($270,000 of which was donated by Atkinson), more than four times that of Lipinski. In its story on Atkinson, Politico noted that Lipinski dodged a bullet in 2010 when his vote against the Affordable Care Act came after he had won the Democratic primary (the 3rd District is solidly Democratic, and any contest for the seat happens in the primary.) Atkinson has not formally announced, but he has started tying Lipinski to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and repeatedly harkened back to Lipinski's vote on the health care bill.

Atkinson has been firing off on Lipinski for some time. In a strongly-worded, column-length comment posted on the Chicago Sun-Times website after Lipinski's "no" vote, Atkinson wrote, "Beginning with the bequeathed congressional seat manipulated by your father and the Chicago machine, we have seen your insider first approach and we reject the same old tired politics and special interest dominated government you grew up in."

And it's not just funding that is impressing political insiders. Atkinson already has a solid team of experienced consultants behind him. He has reportedly hired Michael Rendina, the campaign manager for Alexi Giannoulias' Senate bid, to run his campaign, and lined up experienced pollster Jill Normington, and is in talks with mail guru Peter Giangreco.


Thank you Mr. Atkinson. The Blue Dog Lipinski family thinks that they own this Congressional seat, and I hope that you are able to disabuse them of this notion.


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