Future member of ‘The Squad’? Progressive Summer Lee likely winner in Pa. House primary 

As a Black progressive, Lee has been a standout candidate who could fit well with left-wing Democrats on Capitol Hill.

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Tuesday night, Pennsylvania State Rep. Summer Lee narrowly led in her primary race to fill an open seat in her state’s 12th Congressional District. The seat is one that was safe for Democrats, but as a progressive woman of color, Lee has been a standout candidate who voters seem to agree will fit in well on Capitol Hill as part of The Squad. 

While supporters of Lee have already declared victory, votes yet to be tallied won’t be released until Friday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As reported by Vox, Lee’s nearly guaranteed election to the U.S. House of Representatives is another win for progressive Dems like those of Missouri Rep. Cori Bush and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman in 2020 — and, before them, congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley of New York, Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts, respectively. 

Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidate state Rep. Summer Lee talks to the press outside her polling station Tuesday after voting with Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey (left). (Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Lee’s likely win — along with that of Austin City Council member Greg Casar in Texas’ 35th Congressional District — would add two new progressives to the House. And, as Vox notes, with increased numbers comes increased sway over policy. 

Lee represents north-central and northeastern parts of Pennsylvania, a district that includes part of Pittsburgh. A tried-and-true progressive, Lee supports Medicare-for-all, a Green New Deal, and expanding and packing the Supreme Court, per Vox. She’s also a vocal proponent of environmental justice. 

“I think about all the communities in Pennsylvania that have not seen the type of representation that I’m looking to bring and to offer — folks who will value and really lift up poor working folks, and Black and brown folks, and I recognize there’s a cohort of people who’ve already been fighting for that,” Lee said in an MSNBC interview. “And it would be an honor to join that.”

Having won the primary, Lee is almost guaranteed to win the general election this fall, making her the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. 

“There is a movement there in Allegheny County to move on from the old guard of leadership that’s been there for decades,” said Justice Democrats’ spokesperson Usamah Andrabi. 

Justice Democrats is a progressive political action committee founded in 2017 by former leaders from Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign.

Another race where progressives stood out and forced a runoff is for the 28th Congressional District in Texas, where immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros held her own against Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. Progressive candidates seeking office in other states — including Kina Collins for Illinois’ Seventh District, Rana Abdelhamid for New York’s 12th District and Odessa Kelly for Tennessee’s Seventh District — have the support of Justice Democrats in those pending elections. 

Congress’ most left-wing clique has been able to use their popularity with the public and media to be vocal about everything from additional stimulus checks and legislation on prescription drugs to —most recently — canceling student loan debt. 

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