Patel wins endorsement from 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club
PoliticsPrimary election is April 23

Patel wins endorsement from 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club

“I promise to deliver on our shared progressive values in Congress." — Bhavini Patel

Bhavini Patel (Photo courtesy of
Bhavini Patel (Photo courtesy of

Congressional candidate Bhavini Patel won the endorsement of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club on Sunday, a boost to the Edgewood Borough councilwoman’s bid to unseat Rep. Summer Lee.

Endorsing Patel is a pivot for the club, which endorsed Lee for Congress in 2022 and in her 2018 state House race.

The 14th Ward includes Squirrel Hill, Swisshelm Park, Regent Square, Point Breeze, Park Place, North Point Breeze and Duck Hollow.

The 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club was founded in 1964 by progressive Democrats. Many of its members come from activist backgrounds “and have worked for peace, justice, economic equity, civil rights, equal rights, and other issues,” according to the club’s website. The club produces a voters’ guide that it distributes to Democrats registered to vote in the 14th Ward.

“I am honored to earn the endorsement of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club,” Patel said in a prepared statement. “Breaking from their history of supporting Summer Lee and placing their faith in me is not something I take lightly and I promise to deliver on our shared progressive values in Congress. Together, our campaign’s coalition of unions, activists, and working families will not only win in April but unite Democrats around President Biden in November to defeat Donald Trump once and for all.”

Patel and Lee both addressed the club in person on Sunday at the Schenley Park ice rink before the vote.

While the club did not reveal the vote tally, Karen Hochberg, the club’s president, said, “It was a fair process.” Members voted based on the presentations of the candidates, and “their policies and actions.”

After the vote, there was some chatter online complaining that an influx of new members joined the club recently to sway the results of the vote in favor of Patel.

Lee — who called for a cease-fire in Gaza just days after Israel launched its military response to Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 invasion — was one of just 10 House members to vote against a resolution condemning the Hamas attack.

Hochberg acknowledged that “there were a fair number of new members from the Jewish community to our organization.”

She welcomes those new members.

“I think it’s great that the Jews in our community finally saw that we have an organization in our community that are independent Democrats, that try to provide information to voters to make wise decisions for our democracy,” Hochberg said. “And so we welcome new members and my hope is that these new members stay engaged.”

To be eligible to vote, the new members — who were vetted to ensure they were registered Democrats in the 14th Ward — had to pay dues by Jan. 31, Hochberg said.

“The reason we have that deadline is so people can’t stack an endorsement,” she said. “So we aren’t faced with ‘This was fixed’ or ‘People showed up the day and voted.’ Everybody has to join our organization as a new member by a deadline in order to be able to vote in the endorsements.”

The central objective of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club is “to get information to the voters,” regardless of whether a race is “high profile,” Hochberg said, adding that the group’s influence should not be underestimated.

“The 14th Ward in the state of Pennsylvania is a force in voting,” she stressed. “We’re one of the largest wards in the state of Pennsylvania. We have a high registration of Democrats who vote, and that is why those candidates come there [to speak at the club]. And our little group for 60 years has tried to get information in the hands of people to vote for smart people who care about good government, who want to keep our institutions and our democracy safe.”

“My goal in this meeting was to make sure that the table was set that both candidates have the chance to make their case,” she said. “This was a fair, straight-up process.”

Other club endorsements included former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale for attorney general and incumbent Pennsylvania House member Abigail Salisbury over Ashley Comans.

Last week, The Moderate PAC, which aims to support centrist Democrats, began running a television ad against Lee. The ad accuses Lee of having an “extreme socialist agenda,” and notes that “She even voted against raising the debt ceiling, risking America’s credit so she can become a media star of the far left.”

A new coalition called Reject AIPAC, consisting of 20 progressive groups, including Justice Democrats, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Action and Jewish Voice for Peace Action, was announced last week. Lee expressed support for the coalition in a recent email to supporters, stating: “Summer has made a bold decision to stand up for our values by taking the Reject AIPAC Pledge. This pledge is a commitment to not accept endorsements or contributions from AIPAC and/or aligned PACs because our movement is not for sale to the highest bidder.”

Reject AIPAC aims to counter the spending of pro-Israel organizations that support primary challengers to progressive “Squad” members who have taken anti-Israel positions.

The primary election is April 23, the first day of Passover. To get an application to vote by mail, click here. PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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