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Pennsylvania State House 34th District: A guide to the 2022 primary and candidates

90.5 WESA

What's at stake: Incumbent state Rep. Summer Lee’s bid for Congress has gotten more attention, but she is running to hold onto her state House seat as well this spring in a district that comprises a number of suburbs east of Pittsburgh: Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Swissvale, Churchill, and North Braddock. It’s heavily Democratic and one of the most racially balanced districts in the region: slightly more than half of its residents are white, while more than 40 percent are Black.

Note: Campaign finance fundraising totals include contributions raised in 2021 and 2022. Data updated 5/12/22.


Summer Lee

Summer Lee campaign
Summer Lee

Summer Lee’s 2018 election to the state House over veteran legislator Paul Costa has had a galvanizing effect on the region’s politics. It helped chart a course for progressive challengers and diversified a county delegation that had never before included a Black woman. In Harrisburg, Lee has been an unapologetic champion of criminal-justice reform and environmental justice in a region where industry still shapes — and sometimes pollutes — the landscape.

Party: Democrat  
Experience: Pennsylvania House of Representatives – 34th District (2019 – present)
Education: Penn State University (B.A.); Howard University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major Endorsements: 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club
Fundraising Total: $5,184
Worth reading: "'We don’t have time anymore to wait': Summer Lee announces Congressional bid" (Chris Potter, WESA)

Abigail Salisbury

Abigail Salisbury
Courtesy the Salisbury campaign
Abigail Salisbury

Attorney and Swissvale Borough council member Abigail Salisbury hopes to replace Lee in Harrisburg regardless of how the Congressional race plays out. Salisbury says she’s supported Lee in the past, but that she is more focused on infrastructure needs and aiding the district’s resource-strapped municipalities like the one she serves. And Salisbury says environmental principles are important, but leaders have to consider the economic and health costs of lost jobs on communities.

Party: Democrat  
Experience: Salisbury Legal (2015 – present)
Education: Case Western Reserve University (B.A.); University of Pittsburgh (J.D.); University of Pittsburgh (M.P.P.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Allegheny County Democratic Committee
Fundraising Total: $25,827

Your guide to the elections for Allegheny County executive, district attorney, treasurer, council and more.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.
Emily Previti is a podcast producer and data journalist for Kouvenda Media.