Pittsburgh Dems Oppose 1st Black Woman State Rep from Western PA for Re-Election

Both UE and SEIU Still Back Summer Lee

State Representative Summer Lee (photo courtesy of Pa House Democrats)

Payday Report

The decision of the county party to oppose Lee came a week after the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council voted to oppose Lee. However, UE and SEIU have both backed Lee.

Lee, a former organizer with the Fight For $15, has drawn fierce opposition from the region’s building trades for her opposition to fracking in her district and her support of the Green New Deal. Already, the region’s more conservative unions have pumped more than $67,000 into her opponent, pro-fracking North Braddock councilman Chris Roland.

On Sunday, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee met and voted overwhelmingly to endorse Lee’s opponent, Roland. Much like the Labor Council’s endorsement, Lee was the only incumbent not to endorsed by the labor-dominated Committee.

In addition to opposing Lee, the Committee voted to oppose progressive challenger Jessica Benham vying for a South Side based state representative’s seat. Instead, they choose to endorse Heather Kass, who openly bragged on social media that she supported President Trump.

For Lee, who defeated a 20-year incumbent by a margin of 68%-32% to become state representative in 2018, the snub was yet another sign of the false promises of the white-dominated political machines of Western Pennsylvania.

“The Democratic Party claims it wants more “diversity.” Claims it respects the Black ppl who form its base. Claims it supports women leadership. Claims it trusts the Black women who propel it to victory every time,” wrote Lee on Twitter. “The lie detector test determined…..that was a lie.”

Since the announcement that the local Democratic Party would oppose her re-election, Lee says she has received more than 200 individual donations and an outpouring of support. She says that dozens of people have signed up to volunteer, and the campaign’s grassroots capability is growing as a result of the backlash against the white-dominated Western PA political establishment.

“We know they never wanted us at their little table. We’re still eating, though!” wrote Lee on Facebook.

(Full Disclosure: My father, Gene Elk, is the elected Director of Organization of the United Electrical Workers (UE), which has endorsed Summer Lee’s campaign. Representative Lee and I both attended Woodland Hills High School together, while it was still under federal desegregation orders in the early 2000s). 

One thought on “Pittsburgh Dems Oppose 1st Black Woman State Rep from Western PA for Re-Election”

  1. It’s about the money the Building trades are making now. When the fracking and Cracker plant finish , 6000 outside workers will leave the area and the money will stop. The area will experience the crash just like when the steel mills closed. The gas & oil industry closed the coal fired and nuclear plants jobs. Those good Union jobs were lost ! The cracker plant already hired Non-union maintenance workers & the plant will be non-union. The largest investment companies , like Blackrock with 7 trillion under investment has changed position and will not invest in fossil fuels. All of the Frack Drillers have cut back one half of their work drilling because it cost more to make than they can sell it for. With the rush to complete the pipelines ,explosions and spillage has happened. Spillage with the HDD drilling have ruined all the Federally protected wetlands in all of Pa’s Counties. The Beaver County Conservation District has signed a lease to frack the wetlands. So much for Conserve and Protect ! The spills from the HDD drilling of the pipeline has destroyed the wetland . They even allowed hunting on the property where school children go to explore the wildlife and have classes. The manager was fired and still got paid after the PADEP audited the agency . BCCD issued the permit to Sunoco Pipeline that slid and later that week exploded before the PADEP engineers approved it. When the money stops and the smoke stack from the chemical plant start dumping millions of tons of toxic waste into the air, I wonder where the Democrats and Republicans will be hiding ?

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