Summer Lee declared victory Tuesday night in the Democratic primary race to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, expressing confidence that the remaining uncounted votes will favor her campaign over that of corporate attorney Steve Irwin.
With 93% of reported constituencies, Lee has a 446-vote lead over Irwin, a former Republican US Senate staffer who benefited from super PAC cash pouring into the district in the final stretch. of the contest. Irwin hasn’t conceded defeat as the race remains too close to call formally.
United Democracy Project (UDP), a super PAC founded by the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), spent nearly $3 million in recent weeks to boost Irwin and attack Lee, a progressive state representative who supports Medicare for All. , a Green New Deal, and Palestinian rights.
“The people took on the corporations and the people won,” Lee said in a statement. “We built a movement in western Pennsylvania that took on corporate power, stood up for working families and pushed back on a multi-million dollar smear campaign.”
“It was never about a candidate, it was about the people of this district who are left behind by corporations who put their profits on our lives,” he added. “Today is a new way forward for everyone in the Commonwealth with no one left behind.”
PA United, a group that ran a major field operation for Lee along with Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party, said Wednesday morning that “as a longtime leader of the progressive movement and the first black woman elected as state representative from Western PA, Summer’s campaign energized a strong multiracial working-class base and beat the political machine once again.”
“PA United is proud to have helped Summer Lee overcome massive spending by her opponents and AIPAC and help supercharge her ground game,” the organization added. “The supercharged field program may have provided the margin of victory – knocking on more than 30,000 doors, calling more than 35,000 people and sending 25,000 text messages to help secure a victory. PA United will continue to support Rep. Lee during the November election and when he gets to work in Congress next year.
The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which also ran a turnout operation in support of Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12th Ward, said in a statement that “this election confronts people power with millions of dollars, and … Summer Lee proved that money is beatable when you organize and run on a progressive platform.”
“The youth and workers were able to defeat the Super PACs through local organizing,” said Varshini Prakash, the group’s executive director. “We showed our power, we knocked on doors, we called voters and we decided this election.”
If his victory is confirmed, Lee will face Republican Mike Doyle, president of the council of Plum, Pennsylvania, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
“We got here because of the power of the people,” Lee said during his election party Tuesday night.