Humble beginnings shaped Susie Lee’s political ideology


Susie Lee landed her first job while in elementary school.

The Democratic philanthropist, who grew up in a conservative Ohio home with seven siblings, delivered newspapers when she was 8. It was a very different life, she said, from the lavish one portrayed in TV commercials that attack her because she’s disconnected because she owns 17 homes. Lee is running in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District against Republican Danny Tarkanian.

“We didn’t have much, but we had enough. We had to participate, ”Lee recalled one afternoon recently. “My mother gave swimming lessons at the Jewish Center in Canton so that her children could swim, and then she made us take a shower at the pool because we only had one shower for seven girls.”

Her parents couldn’t afford health insurance, Lee said, and a heart attack left her mother in debt $ 80,000. They almost lost their home. Then Lee’s veteran father lost his job at 57 and never worked again. He died four years ago.

These experiences, Lee says, informed his political ideology and his desire to fight for Nevada families in Washington.

But the value of education was ingrained in Lee from an early age. Lee, 51, received his college education in Pittsburgh working four jobs, including as a cafeteria clerk, nurse’s aide, and aerobics instructor.

“When I was in college, I almost gave up when my dad lost his job,” Lee said. “Someone gave me a job and helped me. So I was called to make sure I turned around and help the others along the way.

Lee was the founding director of the Inner City Games in the 1990s, now the After-School All-Stars, which serve thousands of students with after-school programs.

One of her proudest moments, Lee says, came when she visited Wendell Williams Elementary School in Las Vegas and spotted a young teacher who looked familiar to her.

“Later, I realized it was a young girl who participated in the Inner City Games,” Lee said. “My husband and I were instrumental in helping her when she was a young woman. She came from a poor family… and now she’s a teacher here in Clark County.

Investing in education is the key to Nevada’s success, Lee said. “We have the opportunity to be a global leader in renewable energy, drone technology, cybersecurity – all of these sectors require investment in education,” she said.

Lee met her husband, Dan Lee, CEO of regional casino company Full House Resorts, on a blind date arranged by a friend.

“He asked me if I wanted to go to a fancy French restaurant in Boston,” Lee recalls. “I didn’t want to go to a French restaurant just because I was from Canton, Ohio, and I didn’t know how to pronounce French names.”

Instead, the couple went to a restaurant on the beach. They have been married for 23 years and have two children.

Lee, who first ran for Congress in 2016 and lost in the Democratic primary, was encouraged to run for office by Democratic Representative Dina Titus, who tried to convince her “every two years, ”said Lee. The hardest part was dealing with the partisan stalemate and the attacking ads, Lee said.

“My kids watch TV and see the attacks on their mother and my husband, and they don’t like it,” she said. “I’m just trying to push them away. You can’t let it get under your skin.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at or 702-380-4538. To follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.


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