Progressive Democrat fends off Republican-backed centrist in Pennsylvania primary

Summer Lee, the first black woman elected in Pennsylvania to the U.S House of Representatives and a strong progressive voice in Congress, handily defeated a centrist challenger in Tuesday's Democratic Party primary race. Her opponent, Edgewood Borough Councilmember Bhavini Patel, campaigned on Lee's criticisms of Israel and Biden and with the benefit of a PAC funded largely by a Republican billionaire. Neither did her any good: she was beaten by more than 20 points, with about 90 percent of votes counted.

"I am so humbled and proud to win my first primary re-election to be the congresswoman for this incredible district I've spent my life fighting for," Lee said in a statement celebrating her victory.

"Our campaign was built on a record of delivering for our democracy, defending our most fundamental rights, and expanding our vision for what is politically possible for our region's most marginalized communities."

That argument appeared to sway many of Lee's constituents as well as local Democratic leaders. In February, the Allegheny county Democratic party formally endorsed Lee for the first time, after the group backed her rival in the 2022 primary.

Lee's reportedly proven herself a strong performer in Congress, campaigning on $1.2bn of appropriations for her district and, despite not clapping, working closely enough with the Biden administration for him to give her a shout-out while in town. She was endorsed by the local party and U.S. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman, even after her vocal criticisms of the Gaza invasion, and AIPAC and other groups previously opposed to her laid off this time around. Pittsburgh is about as safe a Dem seat as it gets (there is a GOP candidate, but you might not know he was from his campaign website's homepage) so this is tantamount to a second term.

Mainstream media, of course, averred that Lee's criticism of the Gaza campaign would be a big problem for her.

"It clearly is big enough with a certain group in this district," said Sam Hens-Greco, the party chair in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. "Whether it is big enough for the entire populace, we're going to find out."

If Lee is defeated, she would be the first Democratic incumbent in Congress to lose a primary this year. Other progressive Democrats, including Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, face primary challengers this summer.

Lee seems to have done well enough with the "certain groups" Hens-Greco alludes to, so there ya go.

Previously: Dem thrashes GOP candidate in local election some media treated like a close thing