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Summer Lee

State Rep. Summer Lee is running in the Democratic primary to represent Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District. (Photo: Summer Lee for Congress)

Progressive Summer Lee Nabs 25-Point Lead Over Corporate Lawyer in US House Primary: Poll

The former labor organizer is running to represent Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.

Julia Conley

With just over a month to go until Pennsylvania's primary election, progressive state Rep. Summer Lee holds a 25-point lead over her two Democratic opponents in the race to succeed Rep. Mike Doyle in the 12th Congressional District.

"It's clear the voters of PA-12 are fired up and ready to send a working-class champion from their community to Washington, D.C."

In a poll commissioned by EMILY's List, which supports pro-choice women running for office, 38% of respondents said they supported Lee, while corporate attorney Steve Irwin and University of Pittsburgh professor Jerry Dickinson received 13% and 7% of the vote, respectively.

Lee was elected to the state House in 2018 after working as a labor organizer with the Fight for $15 movement and leading voter mobilization efforts for the state Democratic Party. As a legislator, she has stopped a fracking proposal in her home district and supported proposals to provide healthcare to striking workers and prohibit late fees on rent payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She supports Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and free, universal pre-kindergarten.

"Summer Lee is the bold and inspiring leader we need to secure victory of the must-win open seat," Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY's List, said in a statement. "With five weeks to go until the Democratic primary, it's clear the voters of PA-12 are fired up and ready to send a working-class champion from their community to Washington, D.C. and make history by electing the state's first Black congresswoman."

Along with EMILY's List, Lee has garnered endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Justice Democrats, the Sunrise Movement, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), among other groups.

Irwin, who came in second in the poll taken between March 26 and 31, has received funding from corporate lobbyists and the CEO of a fossil fuel company, according to Federal Election Commission records.

In contrast with Lee's background as a labor organizer, Irwin has defended companies against fair wage and discrimination lawsuits as well as Americans With Disabilities Act claims. He is currently a lawyer with Leech Tishman, a firm which has provided union-busting services to companies.

"Voters need to read and see that Steve Irwin built his career as a corporate lawyer putting corporations and profits first," Lee's website says.

Irwin is trailing Lee, according to the recent poll, despite leading the field in fundraising.

"Summer Lee can win," Winnie Wong, former advisor to Sanders, tweeted last week.


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