CHICAGO -- U.S. Rep. William Lipinski, who has helped bring millions of dollars in transportation projects to Illinois, announced his retirement Friday and urged the Democratic party to replace him with his son on the November ballot in the Chicago tradition of political dynasties.
Lipinski, 66, has been elected 11 times from Chicago's southwest side and has a clout-heavy role on the House Transportation Committee.
His son, Daniel, is on a leave of absence as an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee.
"I wouldn't even consider him if I didn't think he'd be a great congressman," Lipinski said of his son. "He's the smartest person I know."
Lipinski officially withdrew as the Democratic candidate Friday afternoon, and his vacancy on the ballot is scheduled to be filled Tuesday by Democratic ward and township committeemen from his 3rd Congressional District. As a ward committeeman, Lipinski controls about 11 percent of the vote, and the rest are likely to follow his wishes.
Daniel Lipinski, 37, virtually would be guaranteed election in the Democratic district; the Republican candidate is little-known Ryan Chlada of Cicero.
"He's given his son a couple years to get a head start," said political science professor Paul Green of Roosevelt University.
Daniel Lipinski could face Democratic or GOP challenges two years down the road, but by then, he would have a record and be an incumbent.
Lipinski will serve until his term expires in January 2005 and said he hadn't decided what he'll do after retirement.
This year, he has focused on securing transportation money for Illinois in a massive spending bill up for reconsideration. The bill has been hotly negotiated in the House, Senate and the White House for months, but Lipinski said he is confident it will pass before he leaves office.
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 doesn't plan to talk to the media until Tuesday, his father said.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich, at the State Fair, said Illinois will miss Lipinski's experience in Congress, along with his ability "to deliver for Illinois some of the federal dollars that our taxpayers pay and getting it to come back here."