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Lipinski Retiring From Congress

The 11-term Democrat brought millions in transportation funds to Illinois. He wants his son to run in his stead on the ballot in November.

August 14, 2004|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Rep. William O. Lipinski, a powerful 11-term Democrat from Chicago who helped bring millions of dollars in transportation projects to Illinois, announced his retirement Friday.

Lipinski, 66, who has served on the House Transportation Committee, urged the Democratic Party to replace him on the November ballot with his son, Daniel, in the Chicago tradition of political dynasties.

"I wouldn't even consider him if I didn't think he'd be a great congressman," Lipinski said. "He's the smartest person I know."

Lipinski officially withdrew as the Democratic candidate Friday afternoon.

His vacancy on the ballot is scheduled to be filled Tuesday by Democratic ward and township committee members from his 3rd Congressional District.

Daniel Lipinski, 37, who is on a leave of absence as an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee, would be virtually guaranteed election in the Democratic district. The Republican candidate is little-known Ryan Chlada of Cicero.

Though political dynasties are nothing new in America -- they include the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Longs of Louisiana -- "it's a high art in Chicago," said political consultant Don Rose.

"The main difference in Chicago is the machine is so powerful, and these political organizations are so powerful, they can find ways of passing [the office] on where there's hardly a contest," Rose said.

The most famous Chicago dynasty is the Daleys: Richard M. Daley followed Richard J. Daley into the mayor's office 13 years after his legendary father's last term. They have served a combined 36 years.

A leading member of the House Transportation Committee, Lipinski has been a frequent point man for Daley on the expansion of O'Hare International Airport.

Lipinski will serve until his term expires in January and said he had not decided exactly what he would do after retirement.

Daniel Lipinski, who taught courses on Congress and the presidency during the spring semester, has served on the campaigns of various Chicago politicians and worked for congressmen in Washington. He does not plan to talk to the media until Tuesday, his father said.

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