Lee, one of six challengers supported by the Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC, is in the running to fill an open seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District vacated by Representative Mike Doyle. it’s a secure Democratic seat that includes Pittsburgh and the surrounding suburbs, and is ready to be a key collection for progressivesLee is expected to win his race this week.
Lee is currently up against four other candidates in the race, including attorney Steve Irwin, which is supported by Doyle and many institutional democrats in the area. Lee, meanwhile, has the support of local progressives as well as national leader as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Other Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
There are few publicly available polls on the race, but a recent poll from Emily’s Listwho approved Lee, she leads the field (many voters in the poll, however, were still undecided). If Lee wins, his victory would help progressive Democrats continue to build power in Congress: in 2020, candidates included representative Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) they won their contests, strengthening the left flank of the party.
Given The main win by Austin city council member Greg Casar in the 35th Congressional District of Texas, a safe place for Democrats, a Lee victory would give House progressives at least two new members. And as the numbers rise comes greater influence on politics or, if the GOP takes over the House, greater ability to shape how Democrats respond to a Republican majority.
Earnings in progressive bloc in 2020 it enabled the group to exert greater influence on the policies to focus on and the timing of key votes in this term. For example, progressives initially delayed a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill in order to push for social spending legislation to be considered. In 2022, progressives are aiming for more wins in places like Pennsylvania, Texas and New York, which could help them further strengthen their hand.
Summer Lee helped build a progressive movement in western Pennsylvania
Lee is a progressive in the mold of many Squad members: advocating more ambitious policies, including Medicare-for-all, a Green New Deal, and preparing the Supreme Court. He also highlighted his experiences with problems such as air pollution, and the need for systemic change in order to promote environmental justice.
Irwin, Lee’s main competitor, took a more moderate stance and emphasized his commitment to working with Democratic leadership and building broad coalitions to approve the policy. The difference was evident on topics such as climate: while Lee focused on promoting a transition to renewable energy, for example, irwin he was the only candidate in a recent debate to talk about the ongoing role of natural gas.
“In many ways, that rush ends up reflecting many of the same clashes that are visible in the rest of the Democratic Party,” said Allegheny College political science professor Tarah Williams. “There is a great conversation between the two campaigns about how much compromise must be reached to get the policy achieved.”
The recent tension in the race has concentrated on millions of people outside spending on political advertisingincluding those paid by AIPAC ‘s super PAC, a pro-Israeli group supporting Irwin. The AIPAC affiliated group has expressed concern about this Lee was not supportive enough of Israelsomething she resistedwhile defending past remarks he has made on the the country’s treatment of Palestinians.
The announcements, which were widely criticized by local leaders and Sanders, cast doubt on Lee’s support for President Joe Biden. In particular, however, they overlook the fact that Lee campaigned for Biden in the general election.
In addition to being the only female and elected official running in these primaries, Lee would be there first black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress if elected. His candidacy is based on a thriving progressive movement that helped promote in western Pennsylvania.
“There is a movement in Allegheny County to move from the old guard of leadership that has been there for decades,” says Justice Democrats spokesman Usamah Andrabi.
Lee could help expand progressive power in Congress
A Lee win would help grow progressive power in Congress, adding to recent victories in this and the last cycle.
In addition to Casar’s victory, progressive immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros was able to force Representative Henry Cuellar into a ballot for Texas 28th Congressional District. Justice Democrats also supported organizers Kina Collins in the 7th District of Illinois, Rana Abdelhamid in the 12th District of New York and Odessa Kelly in the 7th District of Tennessee in the upcoming primary.
Six new progressive faithful could seriously strengthen the influence of progressives in Congress. In this term, progressives have been able to have more influence given the narrow majority of Democrats in the House. They used that power to push for broader stimulus controls and to bargain for more aggressive prescription drug legislation.
If Republicans regained control of the House, as widely predicted, progressive power would somehow diminish, as Democrats would no longer be in control of the agenda. However, they would likely play a key role in driving the Democrats’ anti-GOP messages and also thwarting the investigation into the Biden administration. In the past, progressives have been among the first to push for Trump’s impeachment and among the most vocal opponents of policies such as family separations.
With more numbers, progressives would be able to organize even stronger rhetorical campaigns to push back a house controlled by the GOP. They would also be able to exert more pressure on party leaders to take these kinds of positions.
New progressives like Lee could also strengthen the subset of more liberal members within the Progressive Caucus, known as the Squad. Currently, the squad includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush. If all six Justice Democrat candidates win this cycle, its size could double, giving them more influence as a block within a block.
With the exception of Cisneros, challengers are also found in safe Democratic districts, meaning they could have a long-term impact on the Democratic Party’s ideology and priorities if re-elected. “The bigger the bloc, the more potential you have to have weight in the Democratic Party, the stronger your bargaining power,” says Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the Indivisible Progressive Advocacy Group.
In the past, members of the Squad have broken away from the broader membership of the Progressive Caucus. When a vote took place last year on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that decoupled it from a vote on a broader bill on social spending that included a tax cut for families with children and funding for fight climate change, for example, all six legislators voted against. Progressive hope that in similar situations in the future, those six lawmakers will have even more company.
“I think of all the communities in Pennsylvania that haven’t seen the kind of representation I’m trying to bring and deliver – people who will really appreciate and uplift the poor working people and blacks and browns, and I recognize that there is a cohort of people who have already fought for this “, Lee said in an interview with MSNBC. “And it would be an honor to be part of it.”