Monday, June 27, 2022

Summer Lee could be the newest addition to the squad if she wins the 12th Pennsylvania primaries

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Pennsylvania House Rep. Summer Lee could become the newest addition to the squad if she wins her Democratic primary on Tuesday.

Lee, one of six challengers backed by the Justice Democrats, a progressive PAC, is running for an open seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, which has been vacated by Representative Mike Doyle. It is a safe Democratic seat with Pittsburgh and the surrounding suburbs, and it’s ready to key pickup for progressivesLee should win her race this week.

Lee is currently up against four other candidates in the race, including attorney Steve Irwinwho is supported by Doyle and many established Democrats in the area. Lee meanwhile has the support of local progressives as well as national leaders such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

There is little publicly available poll about the race, but a recent poll from Emily’s Listwhich Lee endorsed, let her lead the field (however, many voters in the survey were still undecided). If Lee were to win, her victory would help progressive Democrats continue to build power in Congress: In 2020, candidates including Representatives Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) won their races, pushing the left wing of the party was strengthened.

Given the primary victory of Austin City Councilman Greg Casar in Texas’s 35th congressional district, a safe place for Democrats, a Lee win would bring House progressives at least two new members. And with larger numbers comes greater influence over policy, or, if the GOP retakes the House, a greater ability to shape how Democrats respond to a Republican majority.

Profit in the block of progressives in 2020 enabled the group to have more influence over the policies it should focus on and the timing of key votes this term. For example, progressives initially postponed a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill to encourage consideration of social spending legislation. In 2022, progressives are looking for more wins in places like Pennsylvania, Texas and New York — all of which could help them strengthen their hand even further.

Summer Lee helped build a progressive movement in western Pennsylvania

Lee is a progressive in the form of many squad members: She supports more ambitious policies, including Medicare-for-all, a Green New Deal, and Supreme Court packing. She has also emphasized her own experiences with issues such as air pollution and the need for systemic change to advance environmental justice.

Irwin, Lee’s main competitor, has taken a more moderate stance, emphasizing his commitment to partnering with democratic leadership and build broad coalitions to implement policy† The difference was evident in topics like climate: for example, while Lee has focused on advancing a transition to renewable energy, Irwin was the only candidate in a recent debate to talk about the lasting role of natural gas.

“In many ways, that race ultimately reflects many of the same clashes that are visible in the rest of the Democratic Party,” said Tarah Williams, a political science professor at Allegheny College. “There is a big talk between the two campaigns about how much compromises need to be made to make the policy a reality.”

Recent tensions in the race have centered on millions of outsiders spending on political adsincluding those paid by AIPAC’s super PAC, a pro-Israel group support Irwin† The AIPAC-affiliated group has expressed concern that: Lee didn’t support Israel enoughsomething she pushed backwhile defending previous comments she has made about the the country’s treatment of the Palestinians

The ads, which have been widely criticized by local leaders and Sanders alike, question Lee’s support for President Joe Biden. However, they specifically omit the fact that Lee campaigned for Biden in the general election

In addition to being the only woman and elected official to compete in these primaries, Lee would also be the… first black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress if elected† Her candidacy builds on a nascent progressive movement that she helped in western Pennsylvania

“There is a movement in Allegheny County to move beyond the old guard of leadership that has been around for decades,” said Usamah Andrabi, the spokesperson for Justice Democrats.

Lee Could Help Expand Progressive Power in Congress

A Lee win would help grow progressive power in Congress, adding to the recent victories in this and final cycle.

In addition to Casar’s win, progressive immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros was able to get Rep. Henry Cuellar into a runoff for Texas’s 28th congressional district. Justice Democrats have also backed organizers Kina Collins in Illinois’ seventh district, Rana Abdelhamid in New York’s twelfth district and Odessa Kelly in Tennessee’s seventh district in the upcoming primary.

Six new staunch progressives could significantly bolster the influence of progressives in Congress. This term, progressives had more influence, given the narrow majority of Democrats in the House. They have used that power to push for more extensive stimulus measures and negotiate more aggressive prescription drug legislation.

If Republicans regain control of the House, as is widely expected, progressive power would diminish somewhat, as Democrats would no longer control the agenda. However, they would likely play a key role in directing Democrats’ anti-GOP messages and also help counter investigations into the Biden government. In the past, progressives have been among the first to push for Trump’s impeachment and some of the most vocal opponents of policies such as family separation.

With greater numbers, progressives would be able to mount even stronger rhetorical campaigns to push back against a GOP-controlled house. They could also put more pressure on party leaders to take these kinds of positions.

New progressives like Lee could also bolster the subgroup of more liberal members within the Progressive Caucus known as the Squad. Currently, the squad includes representatives 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 power as a bloc within a bloc.

With the exception of Cisneros, the challengers are also located in safe Democratic districts, meaning they could have a long-term impact on the Democratic Party’s ideology and priorities if reelected. “The bigger the bloc, the greater the potential you have to have weight in the Democratic Party, the stronger your bargaining power,” said Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the progressive advocacy group Indivisible.

In the past, members of the Squad have broken with the wider Progressive Caucus membership. When a bipartisan infrastructure bill was voted last year that disconnected it from a vote on a larger social spending bill, including a tax cut for families with children and funding to fight climate change, for example, all six legislators voted against† Progressives hope those six lawmakers will have even more company in similar situations in the future.

“I think of all the communities in Pennsylvania that haven’t seen the kind of representation that I want to bring and offer — people who appreciate and really lift working poor people, and black and brown people, and I recognize that there’s a cohort of people who are already there.” have fought for,” Lee said in an MSNBC interview:† “And it would be an honor to join them.”

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