pennsylvania primary

Summer Lee wins primary battle over Bhavini Patel in Pittsburgh

Summer Lee wins primary battle over Bhavini Patel in Pittsburgh

Mark Dixon

Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee

Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), one of the most outspoken anti-Israel lawmakers in Congress, survived a primary challenge in the 12th Congressional District on Tuesday night against Democrat Bhavini Patel, a member of the Edgewood Borough Council. Lee won 61% of the vote against Patel, a comfortable victory margin but a relatively weak primary showing for an incumbent.

The race marked the first test for several anti-Israel lawmakers facing contested primaries. Pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC and Democratic Majority For Israel, stayed out of the contested primary despite their disagreements with Lee. Both pro-Israel groups are focused on ousting two other Squad-affiliated lawmakers with a long record of hostility to Israel: Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).

Lee’s anti-Israel activism helped her raise money from left-wing donors while Patel struggled to raise significant campaign cash. An outside group largely funded by top Republican donor Jeff Yass spent over a half-million dollars boosting Patel, but the effort made it easier to tag her as a GOP foil.

Pennsylvania primaries are closed, meaning only registered Democrats — not independents — could participate in the primary. Lee’s Pittsburgh-area district has one of the largest Jewish constituencies in the state, and is home to Squirrel Hill, where the Tree of Life massacre took place in 2018.

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