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Bhavini Patel announces challenge to Congresswoman Summer Lee in Democratic primary

Patel announces challenge to Lee in Democratic primary
Patel announces challenge to Lee in Democratic primary 02:35

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With an early primary expected next spring, Congresswoman Summer Lee will be challenged by a fellow Democrat.

As KDKA-TV political editor Jon Delano reports, Edgewood Councilwoman Bhavini Patel says she will offer voters a clear choice.

Patel said this region needs a congresswoman more focused on unity and delivering on local issues than someone divisive, trying to make a name in national politics, obliquely criticizing Lee.

"There's power in uniting, rather than dividing, rather than tearing people down. That is why I am running. That message resonates with this district," she said.

Patel, born in Pittsburgh and raised in Monroeville by a single immigrant woman from India, credits her working-class background to her mother's small food service business.

"That became a small food truck business," Patel said. "I grew up in that business working the serving window. And then became the first in my family to graduate from college, went on to get my masters from Oxford, and then straight back home to Pittsburgh because I wanted to find a way to give back to Western Pennsylvania."

At this stage, Patel is holding back on criticizing Lee directly but suggests she, not Lee, will be more in tune with the 12th District's diverse population, a district that includes the city of Pittsburgh, the Mon Valley, parts of the South Hills and Westmoreland County.

"There's just something really special about Western Pennsylvania, especially when you think about somebody who wants to be in touch and wants to be in the district. That's the message I am bringing to this campaign."

On basic Democratic party issues, it's hard — at least initially — to see much difference between the two women. But Patel suggests her style is much less confrontational than Lee's.

"The people are really hungry for someone who can unite through building, someone who understands the values of Western Pennsylvania and can take this message, our message, to D.C. as opposed to focusing on a national agenda," Patel said.

Lee says she does focus on the district, claiming she's delivered just under $800 million. One similarity that Lee and Patel both have is neither one lives in the 12th District, although Lee says she lives five houses from the district. For her part, Patel promises to move into the district if she wins.

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