Right-wing challenger to Trump-endorsed Republican seeking congressional seat in Illinois

(JTA) — Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and the White House are seeking to keep President Donald Trump out of the GOP primary in the race for Illinois’ open 1st Congressional District. Far-right GOP…

Right-wing challenger to Trump-endorsed Republican seeking congressional seat in Illinois

(JTA) — Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and the White House are seeking to keep President Donald Trump out of the GOP primary in the race for Illinois’ open 1st Congressional District.

Far-right GOP candidate Lynn Morris, a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, is actively courting Trump supporters and taking positions at odds with the president. At a recent campaign stop she said she was willing to challenge congressional leadership “when they do not return [Congressional] district’s bills on time.” A copy of the House bills she quoted was a recent version of an anti-abortion bill that Trump signed into law.

A primary challenge to Trump’s endorsement of Morris could run into trouble, however, as members of both parties, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, have used it as a gauge of a candidate’s allegiance.

Trump endorsed Morris on Oct. 24, giving her a big boost in her race to challenge two-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski. Lipinski is Jewish, as is Morris, and won election this year in what has traditionally been a more-tough-on-immigration and far-right district.

Since Trump’s endorsement, Morris and other right-wing contenders have tried to tap into his supporters by criticizing the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and wavering on the Iran nuclear deal. Morris also has criticized the Iranian regime.

Morris ran for Congress in 2012 and the Illinois state Senate in 2015. She is Orthodox, and her slogan is “I for Her.” She is married to New York-based radio personality and Jewish conservative host Michael Graham, and their family owns a Conservative synagogue in Oswego, Illinois.

“I can tell you there’s no — and I’m going to make this clear right now — no anti-Semites, Nazis, anyone who hates any religious person in America who’s advocating for Donald Trump,” Morris said at a campaign stop in Oswego, according to Reuters.

Lipinski, meanwhile, has been endorsed by Illinois GOP leaders, including Gov. Bruce Rauner and former GOP presidential candidate John Kasich. Lipinski served in the state House of Representatives from 2003 until 2012, when he was elected to his current seat.

In a primary challenge to Morris, state Sen. Heather Steans, a former Jewish Republican from Oswego, is running. Another Republican, businessman Tim Schneider, has endorsed Lipinski.

The race also is attracting Democratic interest as two well-known Democratic candidates, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, announced in mid-October that they would not seek the seat. Morris also is moving closer to a primary challenge, a third Democrat, pediatrician Maria Butina, announced in mid-October that she would seek the seat.

In a letter sent Nov. 8 to Illinois Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Lipinski, who is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community.

“For more than a decade he has supported Israel and remained an outspoken advocate for our nation’s national security interests,” the letter said. “He has also been an important voice for the Second District’s children, championing their ability to go to college.”

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