The Squad might be getting a new member. Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee is campaigning to be the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania.
Deemed “the next AOC” by Fox News, Lee has made a splash during this campaign season.
Prominent Democrats like Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have endorsed Lee. The 34-year-old is currently a front-runner in the race. A progressive Democrat, Lee focuses on an intersectional approach to her politics, according to The American Prospect.
Sanders recently spoke at one of Lee’s rallies, per Fox News. “We have a working class, a middle class, in this country who are struggling and it’s absolutely imperative we get (people) into Congress who are prepared to stand up and take on powerful special interest and fight for working families,” he said. “Summer is one of those people who will do that.”
Lee has contributed to local politics already, according to The American Prospect. Jacob Welsh, a local Starbucks union leader, described a rally held by Lee as pivotal to the Bloomfield branch being the first Starbucks to unionize in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh native Khalil Brown also discussed Lee’s contributions to helping workers unionize. Brown became involved in walk-outs and protests while working at UPMC Presbyterian hospital as a food service worker.
Brown stated, “She has been right there with us. She’s been helping the workers out as much as she possibly can.”
While Lee has prominent endorsements, she has also faced some criticism. A volunteer effort has risen up in Pittsburgh to support Steve Irwin, who is running against Lee in the primary.
Charles Saul, an organizer unaffiliated with any organizations, has attributed the pushback to Lee’s views on the Palestine-Israel conflict, according to the New York Post. Saul perceives Lee as pro-Palestine, citing one of her past tweets, and believes that Steve Irwin, who is perceived as pro-Israel, would be better for the state.
Other organizations like the United Democracy Project, a pro-Israel super PAC, have spoken out against Lee, according to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. Some say the United Democracy Project has smeared Lee by flooding mailboxes with fliers that portray her as insufficiently loyal to the Democratic party and claim that the group has taken her tweets out of context.
The primary is scheduled for May 17, 2022.