Apr 1, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Moderate Democratic Super PAC attacks member of the Squad

Grainy screen shot of a video of Rep. Susan Lee with text over her shoulder

Photo: Screenshot from ad from the Moderate PAC

A Democratic Super PAC dedicated to electing more moderates to Congress is launching a fresh broadside against Squad member Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.), accusing her of abandoning President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Moderate PAC, which was founded to protect sitting centrist lawmakers, is now targeting progressive incumbents.

  • "Representative Summer Lee is opposing President Biden. She and the Squad gave him the cold shoulder at the State of the Union," the narrator says. "We need a representative who will work with Biden."

The group is making two arguments to justify its new approach:

  • One, they are concerned that Lee's progressive record will give Republicans an opportunity to flip her district, in which Democrats currently have a D+8 advantage.
  • Two, they are worried progressive Democrats like Lee criticizing President Biden and distancing themselves from him might damage the president on Election Day.

Driving the news: The PAC is launching a $150,000 ad buy in the Pittsburgh media market with a fresh spot this week — the latest salvo in a $570,000 campaign over four weeks.

  • Lee is being challenged by Bhavini Patel, a first-time candidate, ahead of the congressional primary on April 23.

What they are saying: "Biden and Democrats need to win Pennsylvania to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president," said Ty Strong, the PAC's president.

  • "Summer Lee is part of the far-left 'uncommitted' movement, a movement that does not align with the voters of Pittsburgh," he said.
  • "If we're not careful, a Republican can win this seat," he added.
  • "Moderate PAC is nothing more than a dark money vehicle for Jeffrey Yass to advance his anti-education, anti-abortion agenda in our Democratic primaries," Usamah Andrabi, spokesperson for Justice Dems, told Axios in a statement.

Zoom out: The Israel-Hamas war is dividing the Democratic Party and driving a wedge between Biden and the progressive wing.

  • Discontent with Biden among progressive voters is showing up in the number of "uncommitted" votes Democrats are casting in the primaries, with over 100,000 such votes in Michigan's primary in February.
  • The Biden campaign will get a sense of how pervasive those concerns are in Wisconsin's primary on Tuesday, with progressive organizers aiming to record more than 20,684 "uncommitted" votes — the exact margin of Biden's victory over Trump in 2020.

Zoom in: Pro-Israel groups are targeting other Squad members, like Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), by backing their primary challengers.

Go deeper