Progressive Democrat Summer Lee won election to the House on Tuesday, becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania.
For Lee, it’s the second time she’s made history. Four years ago, Lee became the first African American woman from the region elected to the state House in Harrisburg.
“This was a movement that was about what it looks like when we prioritize the most marginalized and really fight for what a real working-class movement can look like in this country,” Lee said at her election night party in downtown Pittsburgh.
Lee defeated Republican Mike Doyle in the race to replace the retiring Democratic congressman, whose name is also Mike Doyle, in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.
Lee is a two-term state House member and a lawyer and former labor organizer. She also won reelection to her state House seat. A special election will be held next year to fill the position.
Lee’s success marks a major win for progressives. The incoming freshman lawmaker is expected to be the latest member of the group of progressive lawmakers on Capitol Hill known as “the squad.”
While the district was considered solidly Democratic, the House GOP’s campaign arm poured money into this race, making a six-figure investment in the district late last month. Additionally, a super PAC affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spent over $1 million against Lee in the district.
AIPAC’s last minute spending sparked outrage from incumbent progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Mich.). Both progressives accused AIPAC of working for Republican control of Congress, with Ocasio-Cortez tweeting the group was working toward “further destabilization of US democracy.”
But Lee told those gathered at her party Tuesday that her win shows Pennsylvania is stronger than big donor money.
“We are not going to let dark money and outside folks come into western Pennsylvania and tell us what type of representation that we deserve, because our community has been waiting far, far too long for this,” said Lee.