PITTSBURGH — State Representative Summer Lee, a progressive Democrat who could become the first black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, won an expensive and hotly contested primary on Friday after three days of vote counting, beating a more centrist contender who was the favorite . of the party organization.
After a series of primary losses to the national left-wing movement in 2021 and a mixed record in the early months of 2022, Ms. Lee’s narrow win, dubbed by The Associated Press, amounts to a significant win for that section of the party, too. amid a fierce battle over the direction of the Democratic Party that will take place in races across the country in the coming weeks.
Overcoming heavy external spending against her, Ms. Lee, 34, had the endorsement of leading progressive figures, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and local figures including Mayor Ed. Gainey of Pittsburgh and some workers’ groups. mr. Sanders held a meeting with Ms. Lee last week.
She defeated her main rival, Steve Irwin, a lawyer and former head of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission, which had garnered substantial support from the party organization. mr. Irwin got the approval of Rep. Mike Doyle, whose retirement opened the seat.
Among the outside groups that intervened in the race was a super PAC aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which paid for a barrage of advertisements that Ms. Lee attacked.
She also beat out candidates, including Jerry Dickinson, an associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Lee, who won a 2018 State House primaries with the support of America’s Democratic Socialists, is a proponent of sweeping policies, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, and has spoken strongly about the need to defend abortion rights and fight racial injustice.
The 12th district in the Pittsburgh region is considered safe democratic in the general election.