Jake Johnson Politics

Progressive Summer Lee Wins Pennsylvania Primary Despite AIPAC Opposition

Declaring victory with a slim margin in the PA primary, Lee said, "The people took on the corporations and the people won."
Pennsylvania U.S. House candidate Summer Lee attends an election event on May 17, 2022. (Summer Lee/Twitter)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Summer Lee declared victory late Tuesday in the Democratic primary race to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House, voicing confidence that the remaining uncounted votes will favor her campaign over corporate attorney Steve Irwin’s.

With 93% of precincts reporting, Lee holds a 446-vote lead over Irwin, a former Republican U.S. Senate staffer who benefited from super PAC cash that poured into the district in the contest’s final stretch. Irwin has not conceded defeat as the race remains too close to formally call.

United Democracy Project (UDP), a super PAC founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), spent nearly $3 million in recent weeks boosting Irwin and attacking 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 beat back a multimillion-dollar smear campaign.”

“This was never about one candidate—it was about the people of this district who have been left behind by corporations who put their profits over our lives,” she 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 alongside Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party, said Wednesday morning that “as a long time leader of the progressive movement and the first Black woman to be elected as a state representative from Western PA, Summer’s campaign energized a strong multiracial, working class base and overcame the political machine yet again.”

“Summer Lee proved that money is surmountable when you organize and run on a progressive platform.”

“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 is likely to have provided the margin of victory—knocking more than 30,000 doors, calling more than 35,000 people, and sending 25,000 texts to help ensure a victory. PA United will continue to stand by Rep. Lee through the November election and as she gets to work in Congress next year.”

The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which also led a turnout operation in support of Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, declared in a statement that “this election pit people power against millions of dollars, and… Summer Lee proved that money is surmountable when you organize and run on a progressive platform.”

“Young and working people were able to defeat 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 her victory is confirmed, Lee will face off against Republican Mike Doyle, the council president of Plum, Pennsylvania who ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

“We got here because of the power of the people,” Lee said during her election party Tuesday night.


  1. The anti-Zionist struggle is an integral part of the global rebellion against neoliberal imperial capitalism, no wonder AIPAC poured the money on her opponent.

    After decades of unchallenged political power, AIPAC was substantially weakened by Mearsheimer
    and Walt ‘s furniture-breaking ” The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.”

    But the really important development has been the drastic decline of support for Israel from American Jews.

    Increasingly, American Jews are repulsed by this monstrous thing that tries to speak in their name.

    After ham-handed efforts to “instruct” American Jews to be “authentically” Jewish (don’t marry that goy!) and repeated obscene crimes against the Palestinians and attempts to interfere in our politics — Israel capped it off by embracing Donald Trump.

    Their “accomplishment?”

    Deadly attacks on Jews by the people stirred up by Trump and his MAGA Morons. Of course, innocents were killed along with, one hopes, some kapos.

    This small victory is peasing, of course, but I hold no hope that the electoral process, compromised in its very Constitutional foundations, will yield anything but rejection by both “sides” of the population.

    After November and 2024, I expect there will be a genuine civil war underway.

    One simple step from not accepting Supreme Court decisions to not obeying them.

    The world’s reaction may be similar to what the French used to say about Germany: they like it so much they’d like two (or more) of it.

    1. @BabaYaga
      While Lee isn’t as bad as her opponent, she’s still a Democrat, so I don’t hold out any hope for her. The Squad has proven once and for all that the Democratic Party can’t be reformed in any positive and substantial way — many of us have been saying this for decades — and that getting members of other parties into office is the only hope of substantial change coming from the government. I won’t even vote for a 3d party candidate if they’re so much as associated with the Democratic Party, as just happened in the primary here. The Democratic Party is just as much the enemy as the Republican Party, and if people don’t wake the hell up and realize that, things will just continue to get worse.

      1. RIGHT ON! Well said my friend, I too have given up on the Democratic Party (Party of the People, my ASS!) And what would have been the icing-on-the-cake in your response, was this: The entire progressive caucus endorsed (drum-roll please) the corporate candidate BROWN! And why? To stay in the good graces of the Democratic establishment. Again, progressives? MY ASS!

  2. If this apparent victory holds, it will be a wonderful thing – repudiating the “big money” of not only Israeli inspired attempts to control our politics, bot that of other ruthless, well funded, anti-democratic groups.
    We also need to turn our attention to the hypocritical, brutal, internationally illegal actions of our own “exceptional” nation. Too often we find ourselves in the company of other authoritarians like Zionist Israel, brutal Saudi Arabia, and even Putin’s Russia (whom we denounce for the very same crimes we commit).

  3. Great. Another progressive elected who will now go to D.C. and be corrupted by the real implementers of corporate power, the Democrat/Republican party.

    1. Yep. She’ll bend the knee for certain. A matter of when, not if. Like all the others.

  4. And what happens when she gets to congress? Will the establishment turn her into a drone like the progressive caucus which endorsed the corporate Brown over the Progressive Nina Turner? There’s no hope in the Democratic Party, go third party as I have, I’d would suggest, The People’s Party’ (look it up online). God save us from the Party (Dems) of The People!

  5. Bless Ms. Lee and all those who stood behind her. UNITY is the VOICE of the future, unity of the people for themselves and NOT Corporations. Separate Corporations out of Politics, Government etc. as should have been done long ago. Life is NOT about Governments and Corporations, Life is about People, their feelings, and emotions, their lives, and how well we get along. Not War greed power control. Thise are of a bygone energy, and a new energy is present that will foster the growth of consciousness and with it ring in a new era of UNITY for all, for the planet, and our ET brothers and sisters.

  6. AIPAC, quite the racist group. How do they spin these murders? Oh, so many roads to travel.

    The war in Syria continues to heat up despite being overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine. The most recent escalation in the war was an Israeli attack that reportedly triggered Russia.

    The attack, which took place on May 13, targeted complex of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) located near the town of Masyaf in the western countryside of Hama. The SSRC is Syria’s main military research and development institution.

    Israeli fighter jets launched the attack from international airspace off the Syrian coast. The jets fired 22 guided missiles during the attack, at least 16 of which were intercepted by Syrian air defenses. A drone which also took part in the attack was shot down.

    The Israeli attack claimed the lives of three air defense servicemen and two civilian workers of the SSRC. Two soldiers were also wounded as a result of the attack along with five civilians, including a little girl.

    In a report on May 16, Israel’s Channel 13 said that Russian forces opened fire on Israeli fighter jets from an S-300 air-defense missile system during the attack.

    According to the report, Syrian S-300 batteries commanded by the Russian military opened fire as the Israeli fighter jets were flying on their way back. The report alleged that the S-300 radar did not lock onto the fighter jets and thus did not present a serious threat to them.

    The report comes amid deterioration in relations between Israel and Russia. Recently, Israel became more critical of the Russian operation in Ukraine and began providing non-lethal equipment to Kiev forces. The alleged S-300 launch was seen as a Russian signal to Israel that it was changing its policy when it comes to attacks on Syria.

    The US-led coalition also had its share of escalation in Syria. On May 16, an indirect fire attack targeted a base of the coalition near the town of al-Shaddadi in the southern countryside of al-Hasakah in the northeastern region.

  7. Pro-Israel groups enjoyed a number of victories for centrist Democratic candidates they backed in Tuesday night primary battles across the US, though the lobbies appeared poised to lose a key race where they spent unprecedented sums in order to defeat a progressive Democrat.

    The House races in North Carolina and Pennsylvania were seen as early tests for AIPAC’s new political action committee, which flooded funds into contested races between progressive candidates, who are increasingly critical of Israel, and moderate opponents, who toe a more traditional line backing the Jewish state.

    $$$ from AIPAC’s United Democracy Project (UDP) super PAC, along with the smaller PAC belonging to the slightly more left-wing Democratic Majority For Israel are deciding factors in the races. Many are certainly framing it that way, reigniting the debate over campaign financing laws.

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