U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, a Swissvale Democrat, won the primary in the 12th Congressional District, turning back a challenge from Edgewood Borough Councilor Bhavini Patel in one of Pennsylvania’s most-watched elections. The Associated Press declared Lee the winner at 9:21 p.m. as she led with 59% of the vote.

The contest between Lee and Patel cost millions of dollars, drew in supporters from across the country and involved policy issues including Israel’s war in Gaza and support for President Joe Biden’s re-election.

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“Our campaign was built on a record of delivering for our democracy, defending our most fundamental rights, and expanding our vision for what is politically possible for our region’s most marginalized communities,” Lee said in a release put out by her campaign shortly after the race was called.

Group of people at a political campaign event, interacting happily with "Summer Lee for Congress" promotional materials visible.
Yvonne Owens, center bottom, of Homestead, and Marcella Lee-Wilson, right, of Rankin, celebrate at U.S. Rep. Summer Lee’s election night party on April 23. Owens is a cousin of Lee-Wilson, who is Lee’s grandmother. “She’s my cousin, but more importantly, she’s my congresswoman,” said Owens. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Lee will face Shadyside Republican James Hayes in the Nov. 5 General Election and she will be favored to win the Democratic-leaning district that encompasses Pittsburgh, some southern and eastern suburbs and part of Westmoreland County.

Patel ran a campaign focused partly on her career and upbringing but also on criticisms of Lee’s first term in Congress — often accusing Lee of being insufficiently supportive of Biden. Her challenge attracted support from Jeffrey Yass, a conservative billionaire from the Philadelphia suburbs who typically supports Republican candidates, and who Patel denounced.

Edgewood Councilor Bhavini Patel, right, speaks with campaign volunteer Eric Fussenegger, left, of Monroeville, at the Church of the Resurrection polling station in Monroeville on April 23. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Lee called her win “a rejection of right-wing interests and Republican billionaires using corporate Super PACs to target Black and brown Democrats in our primaries — be it [pro-Israel] AIPAC or [Yass-funded] Moderate PAC or any other MAGA billionaire in Democratic clothing.”



Lee has criticized Israel and its actions in Gaza, and at times Biden’s policy toward Israel. Patel has been more supportive of the longtime U.S. ally and tried to use the issue as proof that Lee would jeopardize Biden’s strength heading into November — though Biden complimented Lee in a Pittsburgh visit last week and Lee said Tuesday she voted for him in the primary.

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, left, cheers on U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, right, D-Swissvale, as Lee arrives at her election night party on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel in Downtown. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/Rtvsrece)

Outside a polling location early Tuesday, Patel said the region “deserves a leader where every voice is represented and every voice is reflected. … I think we can adopt socially progressive values while having mainstream Democratic voices. And bringing people into the party.”


Congress

In the 12th Congressional District, including most of Allegheny County and part of Westmoreland, Lee is running for renomination against Patel. James Hayes of Shadyside is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

In the 17th District, which includes parts of Allegheny and Beaver counties, there are no contested primaries. Incumbent Democrat Chris Deluzio of Aspinwall and Republican state Rep. Rob Mercuri of Pine are each unopposed.

For U.S. Senate, Democratic incumbent Bob Casey and Republican challenger Dave McCormick are each unopposed in primaries.



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President

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have each already secured enough delegates to be their parties' respective nominees. Each shares the Pennsylvania primary ballot with a candidate who has suspended their campaign. Some on the left are urging voters to use the write-in option to protest Biden's stance on the war in Gaza.

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Pennsylvania row offices

Republicans occupy two of the three Pennsylvania row offices on the ballot. The office of attorney general is on the ballot for the first time since Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, resigned from the post to lead the state.

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State legislature

Most of Allegheny County's legislative candidates are running unopposed in primaries. There are three state House seats with contested Democratic primaries and one state Senate seat with primary contests in both parties. To view results from districts with no contested primaries, visit the county website.

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Democracy & Doubt
Pittsburgh navigates trust and choice in the 2024 election season

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Charlie Wolfson is an enterprise reporter for Rtvsrece, focusing on local government accountability in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Charlie aims his coverage at the intersection of policy and politics,...