pennsylvania politics

Rep. Summer Lee’s campaign removes Casey endorsement from website

The move comes after Lee was slated to speak at a fundraiser alongside speakers who have espoused antisemitic views

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA) attends the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing titled "Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part II," on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

A subtle change to Rep. Summer Lee’s (D-PA) campaign site in recent days suggests a possible tension with one of her top supporters, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), as the two incumbents gear up for tough reelections.

Within the past week, Lee, a freshman Squad member, appears to have removed Casey’s name from an obscure section of her website that is used to communicate messaging instructions to outside groups prohibited from directly coordinating with campaigns.

In the so-called “red box,” Casey’s endorsement of her campaign had been listed as recently as March 7, according to a screenshot reviewed by JI. But it no longer mentions his support, instead swapping in House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who has also backed Lee’s bid for a second term.

The initial choice to include Casey in a short list of supporters was a tacit signal to friendly super PACs and other political groups to cite his endorsement in their ads leading up to the April primary, where Lee is facing a formidable Democratic challenger, Bhavini Patel.

It was not immediately clear what had motivated the recent edit, though it seems unlikely that Lee herself would not want to be associated with Casey, a key mainstream validator whose endorsement is still listed at the top of another page on her website. Representatives for Lee and Casey did not respond to requests for comment from JI this week.

One possible explanation, however, is that Casey did not want his name to be used in pro-Lee ads. His association with the far-left congresswoman has increasingly become a political liability for him in recent weeks, as Lee has drawn backlash over her hostile stances toward Israel and ties to antisemitic figures.

Casey, a vulnerable Democrat, has faced pressure from a likely GOP challenger, Dave McCormick, to call on Lee to resign, after she agreed last month to give remarks at a fundraising banquet for a leading Muslim advocacy group alongside several speakers who have espoused antisemitic views. Even as Lee canceled the appearance, she has continued to stir controversy — fueling attacks against Casey, whose election is key to maintaining Democratic control of the Senate.

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