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Incumbent Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., secured his party’s nomination and defeated his progressive rival, incumbent Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., the Associated Press projects, and will advance to the general election against a Republican this fall as he hopes to continue representing residents of Illinois’ 6th Congressional District in the House.
Casten, who had 64% of the vote when the AP called the race, swept the Tuesday primary race after new boundaries were drawn as part of a redistricting effort for the 6th District, with both Casten and Newman losing some of their former voters. As with eight other primary elections taking place across the country this year, the battle for the 6th District in Illinois featured an incumbent-to-incumbent face off.
Casten, a graduate from Dartmouth College who is viewed as a more moderate Democrat in the House, has represented the 6th District in Congress since 2019. He was first elected in 2018 after he defeated six-term incumbent Republican Rep. Peter Roskam, marking the first time a Democrat had held the 6th district seat since 1972. Casten was re-elected in 2020.
Newman, considered a progressive Democrat in the House who has enjoyed support from Justice Democrats, a far-left organization that helps elect progressive candidates, currently represents the state’s Third Congressional District in the House. She has held that position since she was first elected in 2020 after defeating her Republican challenger in the general election. She won against incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary with the backing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Both Casten and Newman found themselves engaged in controversy throughout their time in Congress.
A video of Casten, reportedly filmed in late 2019, surfaced in 2020 and showed the then-freshman congressman playing with his band in Downers Grove, Illinois, and calling supporters of then-President Trump “racist” and “loony” in a rap song he created.
Casten also faced criticism in 2018 when he compared Trump to Osama bin Laden and then backtracked, and in 2019 when he called Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, “racist.”
In 2021, just five months after taking office, Newman was slapped with a lawsuit from Iymen Chehade, a Palestinian-American adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, after she allegedly breached a contract. Chehade claimed that Newman had promised to provide him with employment and had asked him to stay out of the primary race for her seat so that she would have a better chance of winning. In exchange for not being a candidate, the congresswoman allegedly promised him a $135,000 to $140,000 salary and title of both “foreign policy advisor” and “legislative or district director,” if she won.
Newman, a graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has offered support for a $15 minimum wage and the Green New Deal, has disputed certain aspects of the allegations and the House Ethics Committee investigated the alleged scandal. In a unanimous vote, the Office of Congressional Ethics signaled there was reason to believe Newman had made the employment promise.
Casten and Newman shared a number of endorsements, including ones from Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, Clean Energy for America, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. Ahead of Tuesday’s election, Casten had spent $3.1 million with $886,000 on hand, while Newman had spent $1.4 million with more than $394,000 on hand, according to FEC filings.
The 6th District includes portions of the Chicago area, including Downers Grove and Lombard. Due to the redrawn map, the district now includes parts of the 3rd District in southwestern Cook County. A majority of Newman’s 3rd District voters now reside in what is now in the 6th District.