PITTSBURGH — State Representative Summer Lee, a progressive Democrat who could turn out to be the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, won an expensive and fiercely fought primary battle on Friday after three days of vote-counting, defeating a more centrist contender who was the favourite of the party establishment.
After a string of primary losses for the national left-wing movement in 2021 and a mixed record in the primary months of 2022, Ms. Lee’s narrow victory, called by The Associated Press, amounts to a major win for that slice of the party, amid a vigorous battle over the direction of the Democratic Party that will probably be playing out in races across the country over the approaching weeks.
Ms. Lee, 34, who overcame heavy outside spending against her, had the endorsements of leading progressive figures including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Latest York, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and native figures including Mayor Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh and a few labor groups. Mr. Sanders recently held a rally with Ms. Lee.
“The people took on the firms and the people won,” Ms. Lee said in an announcement.
Ms. Lee defeated her chief rival, Steve Irwin, a lawyer and former head of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission who had amassed substantial support from the party establishment. Mr. Irwin gained the endorsement of Representative Mike Doyle, whose retirement opened the seat.
In an announcement before the race was called, Mr. Irwin called Ms. Lee a “passionate, dynamic voice and powerful leader for our region.”
Even before the race was called, left-leaning leaders and organizations within the party were declaring victory while more moderate party strategists seemed demoralized by the result, whilst more centrist candidates won other races this week.
“Against an obscene amount of dark money, Summer Lee pulled off a surprising victory,” read a fund-raising appeal from Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s team. Her “victory demonstrates the strength of the growing, organized progressive and democratic socialist movement,” the message said.
Amongst the surface groups that intervened within the race was a brilliant PAC aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which paid for a barrage of promoting attacking Ms. Lee.
She also defeated candidates including Jerry Dickinson, an associate professor of law on the University of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Lee, who won a 2018 State House primary with the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America, is a supporter of sweeping policies including Medicare for All and the Green Latest Deal, and she or he has spoken forcefully concerning the have to defend abortion rights and combat racial injustice.
The twelfth District within the Pittsburgh area is taken into account safely Democratic in the overall election.