In a race to represent western Pennsylvania in Congress, Democrat Summer Lee beat out a Republican opponent who shares his name with a long-serving Democrat from the same area, ending what was for some voters a weirdly confusing election.
GOP candidate Mike Doyle conceded the race for the state’s newly drawn 12th Congressional District on Tuesday night.
Lee’s victory will make her the first Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Washington since it joined the union in 1787.
Confusion emerged after Doyle jumped into the race to represent some of the same area that previously made up the state’s old 18th Congressional District ― an area around Pittsburgh ― which is currently represented by a retiring Democrat also named Mike Doyle. The Democrat Doyle has served in Congress for nearly three decades.
Like other states, Pennsylvania’s district maps were redrawn after the 2020 census.
Lee’s camp suspected that the GOP Doyle was using his name to purposely confuse voters; campaign manager Abby Gardner pointed out how some of his lawn signs read “Democrats for Doyle.”
Doyle’s campaign denied that his name was a factor at all.
In a concession letter posted to social media, Doyle said that he “didn’t run for Congress because what my parents named me but because of what they taught me.”
The progressive Lee, who earned an endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), thanked her supporters in a late-night speech, which was posted to her social media. She recalled some tough points in the campaign.
“When we got into the name confusion and people started wondering what’s going on, we had friends come up,” Lee said in the video of her remarks.
“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 because our communities have been waiting far, far too long for this.”
In this week’s midterm elections, Democrats fared better than expected around the country and in Pennsylvania, where voters also chose a new Democratic governor, Josh Shapiro, and a new Democratic senator, John Fetterman.