Bhavini Patel to challenge Summer Lee
PoliticsCompetition in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district

Bhavini Patel to challenge Summer Lee

“We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us."

Bhavini Patel. (Photo provided by Patel for Pa.)
Bhavini Patel. (Photo provided by Patel for Pa.)

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee’s path to reelection just got a little more complicated.

Bhavini Patel announced her candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district seat on Oct. 2. She will challenge the incumbent Lee in the 2024 Democratic primary.

In a news release announcing her bid, Patel said that she was a longtime resident of the district who grew up in a single-parent household in Monroeville with an immigrant mother. She graduated from Gateway High School before attending the University of Pittsburgh and earning a master’s degree in international relations as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar at the University of Oxford.

“I know firsthand what hard work and grit can do,” Patel said. “The power of the American Dream, that’s what makes this region, our home, great.”

Patel is a lifelong Democrat who has worked as the community outreach manager for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, serves on the Edgewood Borough Council and founded the start-up business Beamdata, which helped people connect with elected officials during the pandemic.

In 2020, she was appointed to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and served as a delegate for Joe Biden in the 2020 Democratic National Convention. She is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy and volunteers with the University of Pittsburgh Master of Quantitative Economics Program, the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association Board and the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh.

“We need a member of Congress in touch and laser-focused on helping real people in this district,” she said. “We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us. We need a member of Congress who will stand strongly with President Biden as he continues to deliver on historic legislation and investments.”

Patel ran for the 12th District seat in 2022 but withdrew before the primary amid a crowded field.

In August, Patel declined to comment on her plans to the Jewish Insider when word leaked that she was considering a primary run. Instead, she said that she was “looking forward” to “hearing” and “uplifting the voices and opinions of our local Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh.”

Several local pro-Israel Jewish leaders have anticipated for months Patel’s announcement that she would be challenging Lee.

In April, Lee voted against a resolution marking Israel’s 75th anniversary, heralding the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and urging the expansion of the Abraham Accords. Lee co-sponsored a bill in May that would restrict U.S. aid to Israel, and in July was one of only nine House members voting against a resolution declaring Israel “is not a racist or apartheid state.” Along with “Squad” members Cori Bush, Jamal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, Lee skipped Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress on July 19.

Lee has said that she is working to deliver $3,451,258 in government funds for Tree of Life, Inc., and $547,212 for the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

Lee has repeatedly ignored the Chronicle’s request for interviews.

Patel said that her initiatives will include bolstering the region’s infrastructure and economy, addressing gun violence, protecting and advocating for seniors, strengthening education for the next generation and investing in local small businesses.

“Our community deserves a representative who will listen, advocate and work tirelessly to address the issues that matter most to us. I believe in the power of unity and collaboration,” she said. PJC

David Rullo can be reached at

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