After outperforming expectations in the 2017 election, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, endorsed two candidates for the 2018 election Monday night.
The candidates, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato, will seek the Democratic nomination in separate races for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Lee is running in the 34th District, and Innamorato is running in the 21st District.
The Pittsburgh DSA’s endorsements come after both the candidates it endorsed in 2017 – magisterial district judge-elect Mik Pappas and incoming County Councilwoman Anita Prizio – prevailed at the polls this November. Pappas ran as an Independent, and Prizio ran as a Democrat.
The Pittsburgh DSA formed about a year ago and has grown to more than 400 members, according to the chapter’s co-chair Adam Shuck. Shuck said the group has benefited from a surge in energy on the progressive left since U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ran in the last presidential election.
“There are a lot of people who feel in their bones that there’s something wrong with the system we live under,” Shuck said. “As socialists, we understand that that’s capitalism – capitalism fused with the patriarchy and white supremacy racism.”
Pittsburgh DSA co-chair Arielle Cohen believes her organization’s endorsements will carry significant weight in 2018.
“People are getting enthusiastic about places that the Democratic party and traditional political organizations have taken for granted,” Cohen said. “We’re affecting change on the level that most affects people in our community, and we’re taking that change and getting people to run for office that never ran before.”
What most excites Cohen about Lee and Innamorato is that they are both members of the Pittsburgh DSA.
“Our members are really powerful,” Cohen said, “Our members are really committed to our values, which are about abolishing capitalism, white supremacy, the patriarchy and the things that get in the way of everyday Pittsburghers' lives.”
Innamorato and Lee will both run against incumbents from a family that is prominent in Western Pennsylvania politics: state Reps. Dom Costa (D-Morningside) and Paul Costa (D-Braddock). Paul Costa is the brother of state Sen. Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) and Public Works Director Guy Costa. Dom Costa is their cousin.
In November, Pappas unseated outgoing magisterial district judge Ron Costa, another cousin, to win his race.
Six other candidates sought the Pittsburgh DSA’s endorsement Monday. They include Aaron Anthony and Tom Prigg, Democrats running in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District; Aryanna Berringer and John Fetterman, Democrats running to be Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor; and Michelle Boyle and Lindsey Williams, Democrats competing in Pennsylvania’s 38th Senate District.