A primary contest is reportedly brewing in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District.
According to Jewish Insider, Edgewood Council Member Bhavini Patel is “planning to challenge” Rep. Summer Lee (D-Allegheny) for the Democratic Party nomination in the Pittsburgh-based congressional seat.
The murmurs of a possible challenge have circulated since Lee notched a 1 point victory in the highly-contested 2022 primary – although party leadership largely coalesced around her candidacy after that. She won by 12 points in the general election.
“Meanwhile, the pro-Israel community in Pittsburgh is also rallying behind a potential challenger to Rep. Summer Lee (D-PA), a freshman incumbent and Justice Democrats endorsee who withstood nearly $4 million in spending from AIPAC’s super PAC in 2022,” writes Matthew Kassel in Jewish Insider. “Bhavini Patel, an Edgewood councilmember who ran a short-lived campaign for the seat before dropping out last cycle, is planning to challenge Lee and has been raising money to mount a bid in the heavily Jewish district, according to two people familiar with her efforts who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on the record.”
Bhavini Patel, an Edgewood councilmember who ran a short-lived campaign for the seat before dropping out last cycle, is planning to challenge Lee and has been raising money to mount a bid, according to two people familiar with her efforts. https://t.co/pteNNIJG7U
— Matthew Kassel (@matthewkassel) August 9, 2023
The report from Jewish Insider added that Patel declined to comment on her plans, but said via text to the outlet that she was “looking forward” to “hearing” and “uplifting the voices and opinions of our local Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh.”
In a statement to PoliticsPA, Patel also neither affirmed an intent to run, nor denied one.
“Right now, my main focus is amplifying the voices and dreams of our diverse community. As a woman of color and the child of immigrants, I feel both honored and deeply compelled to make sure everyone is seen, heard, and valued,” Patel said to PoliticsPA. “Whether I’m addressing the gun violence crisis in a forum held in Edgewood or collaborating with the Indian American community at the Hindu Jain Temple, that’s where my heart and dedication are. It’s all about coming together, lifting each other up, and making a real difference.”
This is not the first time Patel has been mentioned as a candidate for this office.
In February 2022, Patel announced her intentions of seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 12th Congressional District, after then-Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny), announced he wasn’t seeking reelection.
Patel ended her congressional campaign in March 2022, saying that her “campaign didn’t gain the momentum needed for a short runway to Election Day,” and added that she would continue to serve as an Edgewood Borough Council Member. She also works as a Community Outreach Coordinator under outgoing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
In November 2022, Patel announced her candidacy for the state House’s 34th District when Lee won her congressional race. Abigail Salisbury, then-president of the Swissvale Borough Council, was selected to be the Democratic Party nominee for the open state House seat.
Jewish Insider noted in the same article that Lee “would likely be among” AIPAC’s “top targets in 2024, even as it previously failed to defeat her.”
According to the latest FEC report, Lee raised nearly $90,000 from the beginning of April to the end of June. Her campaign has raised just over $240,000 in the election cycle-to-date and had close to $105,000 cash on hand, entering July 2023.