Simon leads California primary for Barbara Lee congressional seat

Lateefah Simon joins Rep. Barbara Lee on the night of the California Primary Election. Tuesday, March 5, 2024. 

Lateefah Simon and Jennifer Tran appeared likely to advance from Super Tuesday in their bid for U.S. Congress Rep. Barbara Lee's House seat. Tran was ahead of Tony Daysog in the primary; 

Simon and Tran are seeking to succeed Lee, who has held her seat in California's 12th Congressional District since 1998. Lee stepped down in order to seek a seat in the United States Senate.    

Simon was expected to advance, while her main competition, Daysog, ended up trailing in third in the state's Primary Election. 

With 43% of the vote on Tuesday, Simon issued a statement. 

"I'm beyond humbled to be one step closer to following in the outsized footsteps of Congresswoman Barbara Lee and representing this magnificent East Bay community in the halls of Congress," Simon said.

Whoever is voted into office in November has some giant liberal shoes to fill, as Lee has long been considered a staunch representative from her district. Lee endorsed Simon in this race. 

Speaking at an Oakland rally with Lee earlier on election night, a charged Simon said to Lee, "We have watched you. We have learned from you, and we know that there is no one coming to save us but us. 

Simon said "health care justice is in the hands of working class, Black and Brown, immigrant women. She said that was something that was learned from Lee's 30 years of service. "We've learned that LGBTQ people deserve dignity, respect, validation and leadership. You have taught us that reproductive freedom is the deep right of every single woman. Not only in this country but around the world."

Speaking to Lee's presence on the international stage, Simon said something she learned as Lee's student at Mills College was that, "this nation should never write a blank check when it comes to damaging the livelihood of citizens around the world." Simon said the U.S. must use diplomacy in order to prolong peace when it comes to international conflicts. 

"I will never, ever be able to fill your shoes in Congress. You were my professor. You were more than that to me, more than that to so many of us, as our rights continue to be taken away. You proved to us that you gotta fight."

Simon, referencing her Muslim faith, said the paramount understanding of how a democracy should run is one that promotes deep peace for women and children. 

Speaking directly to Lee, she said, "I want to be someone who follows in your footsteps, Miss Lee. I want to make you proud. I want to make the folks, not only of the California's 12th Congressional District proud, I want to make sure that the Shirley Chisholms, Barbara Lees, the women who are sleeping in their cars right outside, the folks who are cleaning hotels, the folks who are struggling and moving towards a moment where they might see asylum; that they know there is someone who is going to continue in the Congress working for them like you have worked for us."

Simon said as a single mother, a widow and as a disabled woman, that she loves Lee and guaranteed that they will win together. 

While Lee did not concede in her Senate race, the election results did not go her way with her coming in dead last between Rep. Adam Schiff, Steve Garvey, and Rep. Katie Porter. 

Constituents may know Simon from being on the BART board of directors, where she has served since 2016 and became board president in 2020. 

According to her campaign website, Simon was "galvanized" by the death of Oscar Grant, which led to her running for the BART board. 

Simon's goal at BART was to make public transportation more affordable for those who rely on it and for working families.