THE HISTORY MAKERS…Summer Lee and Austin Davis make history in Pennsylvania

ON ELECTION NIGHT, NOV. 8, SUMMER LEE DEFEATED MIKE DOYLE TO WIN THE CONGRESSIONAL SEAT FOR PENNSYLVANIA’S 12TH DISTRICT…AND THE TICKET OF JOSH SHAPIRO/AUSTIN DAVIS EASILY WON FOR GOVERNOR AND LT. GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA. (PHOTO GRAPHIC BY WARREN KING)

 November 8, 2022, is a date that will never be forgotten, especially in Pittsburgh’s Black community.

While John Fetterman made a lot of national headlines on Election Night, Summer Lee and Austin Davis made history.

The convincing victories for Lee and Davis mean that Lee will become Pennsylvania’s first Black Congresswoman, and Davis will become Pennsylvania’s first Black Lieutenant Governor.

Not too bad for two people who came from modest beginnings in the Mon Valley.

But if you let Lee and Davis tell it, they’re quick to remind everyone that while there were no silver spoons in the families, high-achieving was the expectation, no matter what.

“My family’s been there through everything,” Lee, technically still a state representative in Pa., said at her election watch party in Downtown Pittsburgh, Nov. 8.

Representative Lee told her supporters the story of how, about five years ago, someone told Rep. Lee that she should run for state representative.

“Definitely. Duh,” Rep. Lee’s mom replied.

It was the matter-of-fact manner in which her mother answered Rep. Lee. Representative Lee had heard that affirmative tone before from her mother.

It was all she needed to end up running for the House District 34 seat, which she’s held for two terms, and was elected to a third term on Election Night, though she’ll obviously give that up for a seat in Washington, D.C., as the Congresswoman from Pennsylvania’s 12th District.

“That was the beginning of my journey,” Rep. Lee told the crowd. “Basically my mom saying ‘duh’ to me…”

 

Representative Lee won with 60 percent of the vote as the Democratic candidate for the 12th District, while “the other” Mike Doyle had 39 percent. For weeks, there was an increased confusion as to if the longtime Democratic representative in the District, Mike Doyle, was running against Rep. Lee. But “the Democrat” Mike Doyle announced his retirement early in 2022, and it turned out to be a coincidence that the Republican challenger was a person also named Mike Doyle.

SUMMER LEE AND MAYOR ED GAINEY (PHOTOS BY J.L. MARTELLO)

Turned out, though, that the people “believed in Summer Lee.” That’s what Pittsburgh’s mayor, Ed Gainey, loves to say during her rallies. Mayor Gainey led the “I believe in Summer Lee” chant at the watch party prior to Rep. Lee’s address to the crowd.

“Let’s wake up D.C.,” the mayor added, referring to Rep. Lee’s soon-to-be location in the nation’s capital.

“When we are going to make history, there are always going to be barriers that come up against us,” Rep. Lee said. “And I’m so proud of the work that everyone in this movement has done,” calling it a “multi-racial, multi-generational” movement.

“We’re not going to be intimidated, we’re not going to be told what we can or cannot do. We’re not going to let dark money and outside folks come into Western Pennsylvania and tell us what type of representation that we deserve…This is a victory not just for me, this is a victory for each and every one of us.”

SUMMER LEE WITH FAMILY

SUMMER LEE AND LA’TASHA D. MAYES. MAYES IS THE NEW REPRESENTATIVE FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 24.

During the Primary Election in May, Rep. Lee was met with a host of attack ads, more than $3 million spent on degrading her and her accomplishments. But she still won the Primary over her Democratic opponent, Steve Irwin. In the past weeks, different attack ads splashed across local television, though not as severe. Still, it was never a shoo-in that Rep. Lee would win over “the Republican” Mike Doyle. 

SUMMER LEE AND SARA INNAMORATO

SUMMER LEE AND JASIRI X

“This was a movement of what it looks like when we prioritize the most marginalized, when we fight for what a real working-class movement can look like in this country,” Rep. Lee said. “It’s what it looks like when we fight back against all the racial fear-mongering.”

Rep. Lee, the Woodland Hills High School graduate, added: “I just want to thank you for this history-making movement, for trusting me to be the representative of this vast, diverse District in Western Pennsylvania.”

 

AUSTIN DAVIS—FROM MCKEESPORT TO HARRISBURG

THE NEW PA. GOVERNOR/LT. GOVERNOR COMBO—JOSH SHAPIRO, AUSTIN DAVIS.

Austin Davis admitted that his grandparents probably would never have imagined that he would hold the second-highest office in the state of Pennsylvania.

But it was his grandparents’ hard work, their tough-minded attitude, that was passed down to his two parents, who passed down that same mindset to him.

“Anything is possible when you give a child the resources they need, coupled with an environment in which they can thrive,” Rep. Davis of the 35th House District, said during a victory speech at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Nov. 8. “I was blessed to have two parents who sacrificed so much to give my sister and I every opportunity to succeed. I had teachers who invested in me and encouraged me to get involved, and I had mentors who taught me the meaning of service. It was because of a community that loved and cared for one another, a good public school and good public school teachers that a kid from an old steel town often overlooked by the powerbrokers in Washington and Harrisburg, was able to grow up to be the first Black state legislator outside the City of Pittsburgh, and now Pennsylvania’s first Black Lieutenant Governor.”

That’s right, Rep. Davis will soon be in Harrisburg, joining Attorney General Josh Shapiro, as Shapiro was elected to be the next governor of Pennsylvania. Shapiro’s opponent was Republican Doug Mastriano, but experts pretty much put this one in Shapiro’s bag weeks before Election Day. Mastriano was seen as “too extreme” by many Democrats and even some Republicans. Mastriano could never sway the suburban White voters his way, the more moderate Republicans.

Shapiro defeated Mastriano by a 56 to 42 percent margin.

Just in case any surprises occurred, Rep. Davis still would have kept his seat in the state House. He was re-elected with 66 percent of the vote in his 35th District. But similar to Rep. Lee, there will soon be new people at the helm in the 34th and 35th House Districts in Pa., because Davis and Lee are “movin’ on up.”

“While I am blessed with this opportunity and responsibility, it was paid for by those who came before me,” Rep. Davis told an energized crowd in Philly. “People like K. Leroy Irvis and countless activists and concerned citizens whose names may not show up in print, but were just as important to our Commonwealth. They paved the way for this moment.”

Dressed in his comfortable-fitting navy blue suit, Rep. Davis thanked his family, and especially the person “who sees me at my best, my worst and everywhere in between, a woman who is accomplished in her own right and challenges me to be a better man each and every day, Pennsylvania’s next Second Lady, Blayre Holmes Davis.”

Blayre Holmes Davis is director of community relations for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In January 2023, when these new positions begin, don’t be surprised to see Lee and Davis with numerous national television appearances, etc., fighting for what’s best for Pennsylvanians in Congress and in Harrisburg.

And it all started with them right here, born and raised in the Pittsburgh area.

“This is a moment that defines us as a Commonwealth,” Rep. Davis said. It says that “Pennsylvania will always be a place where all are welcomed and where we all have the opportunity to succeed.”

 

 

 

Comments

From the Web