His dominance is a reminder that open-seat races – where longtime Democratic incumbents have retired or forged a new seat – represent a fruitful opportunity for the left, which is trying to swell its ranks after a series of disappointing losses in 2021 .
Some 30 Democratic incumbents have announced they will leave Congress this cycle. Those in swing seats threaten the party’s already tenuous hold on its wafer-thin majority, but even those who leave deep blue districts will impact the composition of the House in 2023, if replaced by more progressive candidates.
First elected to the State House in 2018, Lee is an attorney who supports a $15 minimum wage, the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. She ousted a longtime incumbent when she won her State House seat with the backing of a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
She is also endorsed by Justice Democrats, a progressive organization that has made a name for itself supporting longtime challengers to entrenched Democratic incumbents.
Lee, who won 38% of the vote in late March polling, has two main opponents in the May 17 primary, attorney Steve Irwin and law professor Jerry Dickinson. They received 13% and 7% respectively. Some 40% were undecided.
The survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted by GQR Research from March 26-31. The margin of error is 4.9%. Identification of Lee’s name among voters surveyed was 61% and his approval rating was 39/10.
“Summer Lee is the bold and inspiring leader we need to win the must-win open seat,” EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler said in a statement, noting that Lee would be the state’s first black congresswoman. .
The outgoing member, Rep. Mike Doyle, was first elected in 1994 and is the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation. The pro-Labour Democrat had previously faced challenges from the left, including from Dickinson in 2020, but was easily re-elected.
After failing in Ohio, Louisiana and Virginia last year, Progressives have focused more of their efforts this year on trying to win open seats, rather than the daunting task of ousting longtime incumbents. . Four of six members of a group of prominent progressives known as “the Squad” won their seats by beating incumbent members in the primaries, including representatives. Jamal Bowman (DN.Y.) and cori bush (D-Mo.).
But the retirements of veteran members, like Doyle, open up other key opportunities. Progressive Austin City Council member Greg Casar won a primary for an open Deep Blue seat in central Texas last month with little opposition. And left-leaning State Rep. Jasmine Crockett is next month’s first-round favorite for the incumbent. Eddie Bernice Johnsonheadquarters based in Dallas.
Doyle announced he would retire in mid-October, before Pennsylvania completes its redistricting process. His district remained a deep blue seat that President Joe Biden would have carried by 20 points in 2020.