Fri. May 24th, 2024

‘Squad’ member Summer Lee wins Pennsylvania House primary election

By 37ci3 Apr24,2024



Progressive Rep. Summer Lee fends off a primary challenge from Edgewood Borough Councilwoman Bhavini Patel, NBC News projects. as an early test How do they feel about Democratic voters’ concerns about the Israel-Hamas war and rising anti-Semitism at home?

Lee led Patel by 15 points with 64% of the expected vote as of 9:15 pm ET.

Lee, a member of the House “Casualty,” has been critical of Israel’s handling of the war and was one of the first lawmakers to call for a cease-fire in Gaza last year. Patel said Lee’s advocacy was harmful to Biden’s re-election chances and out of step with his district.

Pittsburgh’s 12th Ward is also home to Squirrel Hill, one of the nation’s most prominent historically Jewish neighborhoods and home to the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre, the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history.

Condemning Hamas and speaking out against anti-Semitism, Lee accused the Israeli government of committing “war crimes” and called for an unconditional end to military aid to the country. On Saturday, he joined 36 Democrats and 21 Republicans in voting against the Israel aid package. Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh expressed concern over the way he handled and discussed issues related to Israel.

But Lee was seen as a prohibitive favorite before Tuesday. The first black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania, Lee overcame significant spending by pro-Israel groups during her first primary bid in 2022 before winning the general election. The same groups didn’t get involved in his race this time, even as Israel saw the attempt to topple him as a steep climb, becoming a more prominent issue.

Well-established in the district, Lee built his race around fighting Donald Trump-aligned Republicans, bringing federal dollars to the district and bringing new voters to the Democratic fold.

“The fact that she’s doing well is a testament to her strength,” said Nick Gavio, a progressive strategist for the Working Families Party, which has spent $320,000 on digital and TV ads on Lee’s behalf.

In the meantime, dozens of Jewish voters Almost everyone in the region who spoke to NBC News said whether they supported Lee or Patel in November, Jewish voters are not “monolithic” and that democracy will depend on issues outside of Israel. abortion rights and the economy weighed heavily on them. The majority said they would vote for President Joe Biden.

At the launch of his “Jews for Summer” coalition earlier this month, Lee signaled a veiled Republican effort to use divisions over Israel to divide his multiracial, interfaith support base. While groups affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee did not enter the race, an outside group largely funded by GOP megadonor Jeffrey Yass spent more than $500,000 to boost Patel — a move Lee and his allies hammered home in the race’s final days. competition.

“We have communities that are hurting. The Jewish community is one of them. And there are people who are not going to agree 100% with everything you say,” Lee said in an interview with NBC News, making his stance on the ceasefire “very clear and open.” “I condemned Hamas. We have worked with families of hostages; We did everything I thought was necessary for this. And at the end of the day, we disagree.”

Patel, who condemned Yass and said the attacks on the donation were a distraction, took issue with Lee, who offered the most support to Biden. He criticized Lee for failing to condemn activists and groups urging Democratic primary voters to cast “disloyal” votes in the presidential primary.

“It’s essentially playing with fire,” said Patel, who argued in an interview that it could embolden Trump.

Lee said Tuesday that he voted for Biden and at a Jews for Summer event earlier this month, “We’re going to make sure that the person in the White House is not replaced.” At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh last week, Biden called Lee “someone who’s got my back.”

Of voters casting secure ballots, Lee told NBC News, “I totally respect that.”



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By 37ci3

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