Primary election for the Pennsylvania Democratic House won by progressive summer lee

Saturday, May 21, 2022
author picture Lucas Simon
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Does the Democratic Establishment Support Bernie Sanders in Allegheny County?

The gubernatorial election was a battle of ideas. The Democratic establishment was at odds with the socialist-leaning independent candidate. The race‚ which has been characterized as a 'blue wave'‚ highlighted the rift in Allegheny County. The winning candidate was expected to represent a reliably blue district. But the question remains: Does the establishment support the socialist-leaning candidate? Let's take a closer look.

Summer Lee‚ Pennsylvania's state representative was at a Pittsburgh campaign stop on May 12th. (Rebecca Droke/AP) PITTSBURGH (Pa.) -- A major victory for progressives in Pennsylvania was achieved when state Rep. Summer Lee overcame an avalanche of outside funding to win the Democratic House primary. After a delay in counting votes‚ the Associated Press declared the victory in the 12th Congressional District. This means that Lee will take over the seat of retiring Rep. Mike Doyle. It is a safe Democratic seat in Pittsburgh's south and the surrounding suburbs. Lee (34 years old) was running against Steve Irwin in an extremely tight race. Doyle‚ establishment Democrats‚ and seven-figure spending figures from pro-Israel lobbying organizations supported Lee. Lee will become the first Black woman in Congress if she wins November‚ as is expected. We fought back and won the power of our people. Lee stated Wednesday morning that she was fighting for the country's future in Western Pennsylvania at an election night party. It is said that a Black woman cannot win. We came together. We cannot be stopped. There is a lot more work ahead. We believed that a better world could be achieved when we started this project. Now we need to make it happen. At a campaign event‚ Senator Bernie Sanders supported Summer Lee. (Rebecca Droke/AP) After successfully priming the two-decade old incumbent‚ whose family is part of a Pittsburgh political dynasty‚ Lee was elected to the 2018 state legislature. Lee‚ who is both a labor activist and a lawyer‚ was also elected. Along with Sara Innamorato‚ Elizabeth Fiedler and Elizabeth Fiedler who won primary elections Tuesday‚ she was among three young women supported by the Democratic Socialists of America in winning state legislative seats for that cycle. She. Helped found unite an organization promoting progressive candidates in coalition with service unions. Justice Democrats had given her endorsement‚ which is the same group that helped Squad members Ilhan Omar‚ Rashida Talib‚ and Alexandria OcasioCortez get elected to Congress. Lee was running on a platform which included Medicare for All and the Green New Deal‚ as well as criminal justice reform. This means that she will represent the left side of the Democratic House caucus. Lee was supported by a variety of local unions including the SEIU Chapters and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)‚ the current Squad members‚ as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal who is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus‚ are both from Massachusetts. Irwin was also supported by a variety of established Democrats including Bill Peduto (ex-Pittsburgh Mayor) and Gov. Ed Rendell‚ Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Lee had established a comfortable lead early polling before the election millions in extra money irwin was attacked and supported by television advertisements and mailers. This is part of an a trend of attacks against progressive candidates Although the money was provided by pro-Israel super-PACs‚ which have supported a few Republicans‚ they didn't attack Lee for her international position but rather questioned her loyalty to President Biden. These ads are lee supporters criticized the decision the group includes Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey who defeated Peduto (a moderate Democratic incumbent) in the last year's primary. Gainey was the first Black mayor of the city. Senator Bernie Sanders supports Summer Lee‚ the Pennsylvania state representative on May 12. (Rebecca Droke/AP) Although I believe the ads worked in some areas‚ it was easy to refute them given Summer's track record of growing the Democratic electorate and supporting President Biden in his race against Trump. It was misleading. She continued‚ "While I was knocking on doors‚ I found that the ads were working against their original purpose." Many people felt motivated to vote for Summer after seeing the advertisements or the mailer. They are also frustrated by the Democratic Party‚ and feel that the party needs to be rebuilt in order to be more inclusive‚ diverse and grounded in progressive values. Justice Democrats gave Lee a boost in her fundraising‚ while Sanders organized a supporter rally in downtown Pittsburgh. Senator from Vermont also wrote a letter jaime Harrison‚ Chair of the Democratic National Committee‚ asked Harrison to denounce super-PACs in Democratic primaries. Harrison stated that he hadn't heard criticism from Democratic leaders regarding super PACs spending millions on dark money to purchase Democratic primaries. Sanders wrote that the goal of this millionaire-funded effort was to destroy candidacies for a variety of progressive women and men of color running for Congress. Lara Putnam is a University of Pittsburgh professor who lives in 12th District. She said that she was flooded with mailers supporting or opposing Lee. Putnam studies labor activism and said that Lee's coalition shows the shift in union power from white blue collar workers to service jobs in‚ which are more prominently populated by women of color. Steve Irwin (Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District) at a Pittsburgh campaign event‚ May 14. (Rebecca Droke/AP) According to Yahoo News‚ Putnam‚ the underlying story is that there has been a shift in political weight from unions representing people who build hospitals towards unions seeking to represent those who work in them. Innamorato stated that unions and members do not exist in a single entity. Summer received a few endorsements from unions that serve low-wage service and retail workers. Irwin‚ however‚ was endorsed by the local building trades. These endorsements are more aligned with establishment candidates. Innamorato said that I am curious about how the union leadership changes as lower-wage service-based workers and emerging industries with more progressive workers join unionization efforts. These will provide the needed energy for the union movement and may also shift who they elect. The entire labor movement can benefit from the addition of new industries and the growth in membership. Putnam noted‚ however‚ that Irwin's close victory was largely due to outside spending. This shows how big money can impact races such as this one‚ like it did in North Carolina. With a progressive candidate falling. Next week‚ Texas will be testing the influence of outsiders. Challenger Jessica Cisneros and then in August with rep andy levin in michigan both were targeted. Many political analysts expect that the GOP will retake Congress in November‚ and make Democrats minority. The diminished Democratic caucus is likely to be more progressive as the majority of Republican wins this fall will go to moderates from swing districts. A Republican-controlled House would curtail Democrats' ability to push through legislation to Biden's desk. However‚ with most of President Obama's plans being thwarted by the Senate's centrist Democrats‚ it is possible that a House with more progressive members could have an impact on the party's ideology. Overall‚ Tuesday night was good for Pennsylvania progressives. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who had supported Sanders twice in presidential campaigns‚ won easily the race to become the party's nominee for the Senate seat. He defeated a moderate opponent‚ Rep. Conor Lamb who had received dozens of endorsements. Innamorato stated that while Mayor Gainey and I were endorsed by the party as was Summer Lee‚ along with two other progressive women in the statehouse. The endorsement of our local Democratic Party in the last few elections hasn't helped to boost exciting and people-powered campaigns. We were again rewarded Tuesday night by the results. Innamorato observed that the two primary candidates‚ Jessica Benham (and Emily Kinkead) won easily without party support.