White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren on Monday endorsed two liberal candidates who have launched primary challenges against incumbent House Democrats.
The endorsements of immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in southern Texas and marketing consultant Marie Newman in the Chicagoland district offer Warren, a Massachusetts senator, an opportunity to underscore her alliance with the more liberal wing of the Democratic party as she battles with Sen. Bernie Sanders for the progressive mantle in 2020 Democratic presidential contest.
Cisneros and Newman have the backing of Justice Democrats, the progressive group that helped elect freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., last year. They are among eight Democratic candidates who have launched 2020 primary challenges against sitting House Democrats and that are backed by Justice Democrats.
Newman had previously received endorsements from 2020 Democratic presidential contenders Sanders, New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Gillibrand and Inslee both dropped out of the presidential race in recent weeks, while Sanders is neck-and-neck with Warren in many early voting state and national polls, trailing Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“At a time when women’s reproductive rights are under attack daily from Republican lawmakers across America, Illinoisans deserve a leader with an unwavering commitment to fighting for women’s access to reproductive health care,” Warren said. "Marie Newman is that leader. She understands that this isn’t a moment to back down – it’s time to fight back.”
Warren on Monday also endorsed two candidates, Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, running for Philadelphia’s city council. The two are aligned with the liberal group Working Families Party.
Cisneros is challenging Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was elected in 2004, while Newman is taking on Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has served since 2004 and followed his father Rep. William Lipinski into Illinois' 3rd District seat.
Cuellar and Lipinski are two of the most conservative Democrats serving in the House.
Lipinski, who fended off a Newman in a close primary race in 2018, opposes abortion rights and was the only Democrat in the Illinois congressional delegation to vote against President Obama’s signature health care law, because it required organizations to provide employees with contraception even if that clashed with a religious group's beliefs.
"Warren has moved from independent fact-based thinking to ideological orthodoxy," Lipinski said in response to the endorsement. "My opponent has always been an ideologue. She has never focused on how she might serve the people of IL3, but has only parroted the talking points of radicals who would take away everyone’s private health care, eliminate Medicare, and raise the taxes of hard working middle-class families by tens of thousands of dollars."
“The people of Texas’ 28th district are ready for systematic change and deserve a Democrat that will be on the side of working people; not the side of big money and obstructionist Republicans,” Warren said in a statement about Cisneros, who once served as an intern for Cuellar. “I believe Jessica Cisneros is that fighter. As an immigration lawyer and daughter of small business owners growing up on the border, Jessica knows our diversity is our strength and that when progressives are unapologetic about our values and who we’re in this battle for, we win. It’s time Texans had a champion in Congress who does just that.”
Cuellar punched back at Warren for backing his opponent.
“We told you the outside special interests were coming to take away local jobs,” Cuellar posted on Twitter. “Elizabeth Warren and our opponent share an agenda that would kill over 108,000 jobs in our region. I'm fighting back. Will you join me?”
We told you the outside special interests were coming to take away local jobs. Elizabeth Warren and our opponent share an agenda that would kill over 108,000 jobs in our region. I'm fighting back. Will you join me?
— Rep. Henry Cuellar (@CuellarCampaign) September 9, 2019
Justice Democrats welcomed Warren’s support for Cisneros and Newman. The group has criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which earlier this year warned campaign vendors that the party wouldn't award contracts to political firms working for primary challengers.
“We are so proud that Jessica Cisneros and Marie Newman are being endorsed by Senator Warren, a strong fighter for working families,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. “At a time when the DCCC is rallying around pro-NRA and anti-choice Democrats like Cuellar and Lipinski, it’s a breath of fresh air to have candidates for president who remember what the Democratic Party should stand for.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Elizabeth Warren endorses progressive challengers over Dem incumbents