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PA-7: Lindy Li Launches Congressional Campaign

Lindy LiThe Millennial Generation may soon have a voice in Washington, DC.

According to Jonathan Tamari of the Inquirer, Lindy Li, a Malvern native and 2012 Princeton graduate, has launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination to represent Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district.

The district comprises parts of the Philadelphia suburbs, spanning Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Berks, and Lancaster Counties.

In an open letter published on her campaign website, Li promises to be the voice of “the women, the young people, the forgottens of our great commonwealth.”  Her platform includes many of the issues important to millennial voters, such as college affordability, climate change, women’s rights, and campaign finance reform.

“I’m ready to unleash the power of my generation,” Li told Tamari.

Li, who currently lives in Radnor, will face La Salle political science professor and 2014 nominee Mary Ellen Balchunis in the Democratic primary. The winner will challenge Rep. Pat Meehan in the general election.

If Ms. Li prevails, she will be the youngest serving member of Congress (she turns 25 in December), and the only female representing Pennsylvania.

According to the Inquirer, Li considered running in the 6th district but decided on the 7th instead after talking with Democratic party leaders. She said that she has planned campaign events with Lt. Gov Mike Stack and former Gov. Ed Rendell.

36 Responses

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  4. I was inclined to support Balchunis in the last election until I met her. She was evasive and disingenuous. She sounded like a classic machine pol, for all her newness to the race at that time. She cannot win this district.

    Lindy is raising some money-I need to hear more about her. I think the best bet for Dems will be PA 6 and 8, not PA 7.

  5. Jim Dugan-

    In Delco we have a terribly inept and clueless chairman who has no idea how to build party infrastructure. We have about 100 fewer committee people now, than when he took office several years ago. So, it’s not surprising that election day poll coverage is weak, and voters can barely meet committee people (let alone elected politicians).

  6. It’s time Democrats running for office in PA started
    speaking to Democratic voters and potential voters. At the polls
    in most of DelCo you’re lucky to meet a politician who is not GOP.
    The 7th is considered lost before we start. It’s a shame and a disgrace.

  7. M J

    I think because they didn’t want a primary in the 6th.

    So maybe she was tricked into running in the 7th on the off chance she could raise enough money to make Meehan spend some of his, or annoy him to death about her “dreams”.

    The 6th district has only a 25K GOP registration advantage (65K in the 7th). So, removing her (getting her to remove herself) was a smart play for the Dem leadership.

    Whether or not she wins the primary in the 7th, doesn’t change the outcome in the Fall, but protects the 6th from becoming a circus.

  8. Mike-

    The primary depends on a lot of factors, especially support within the party and being the endorsed candidate on the sample ballots.

    Claiming you can raise $7 million doesn’t help you be taken seriously.

    I heard a rumor that Landau might be leaning toward Lindy. If so, then she’s the one who has to worry about her paperwork being filed correctly, not Mary Ellen.

  9. Fairly certain that she wins the Primary against Balchunis, which comes after the Delco Dems file Balchunis’ petitions in the wrong state and then complain they were tricked by the Wolf state department. BTW, loved this woman in Charlie’s Angels. Unfortunately, she will not come close in the General, losing by 25. Oh well, not everything has a happy ending.

  10. She would be better off running in PA-2, betting that Fattah has major legal problems and has to resign. If that happens all she would have to do is get a plurality in a multi-candidate Democratic primary.

    Agreed. This young lady got bad advice.

  11. 13thDistrictDem-

    Well, while we’ve had some success at the presidential level, the Dem performance in Delco (and the 7th in general) is terrible. There are more Republicans, and they turn out in higher percentages.

    There are some Dems who register Republican out of fear of Delco GOP, but vote Democratic. However, there aren’t enough of them.

    The R’s are more moderate here, but as you get closer to the local level you get split ticket voters going for the Dems at the top of the ticket and the local republicans at the bottom. So, you had Meehan, Casey and Obama all winning in Delaware county 60%-40% despite completely different political viewpoints.

    It’s really quite dumb for so many voters to support Obama and Casey, then turn around and vote for a pick like Meehan who will vote against their policies.

    So, if the Cook Report averages the Congressional with the other races, they are getting a misleading result.

  12. Excuse me. I meant PVI – Partisan Voting Index. It’s a measure of Democratic versus Republican performance over *all* races — President, Senate, Congress, etc. It’s done up by the people at Cook Political.

    DPI means Democratic Performance Index. It’s a similar number, basically what percentage an “average” Democrat would get.

  13. 13thDistrictDem-

    DPI? I’m bad at acronyms.

    The registration in the 7th is: 35% Dem, 51% Rep. and the remaining 14% independent/no-party.

    But, if you look at 2014 turnout counts, it was 34.4% Dem, 56.2% Rep and only 9.4% independent.
    That’s over a 20 point gap between Dem and Rep voter turnout counts with the well funded gov races driving turnout. 51,900 more Republicans showed up than Democrats.

    The Republicans currently have a 65,000 voter registration advantage over the Democrats in that district. So, while 2016 will bring out over 80% of the Dems, it will also bring out over 85% of the Republicans.

    Given the new district lines, even Sestak would be hard-pressed to take it back. He might be able to, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. It’s a coin-flip at best, especially with the failing Delco Dems infrastructure.

    The 7th is simply unwinnable by any other Dem candidate against a Delco GOP insider/incumbent like Meehan without some MAJOR scandal. Let’s not forget, Sestak won in a Dem sweep year, where Weldon’s offices got raided by the FBI right before the election (so there was a major GOP scandal), and there was a lot of opposition to the Iraq War as a rallying issue, and Sestak had Bill Clinton campaigning for him.

    Until the district lines get fixed after the new census, the strategy/policy in the 7th is to find a sacrificial lamb to volunteer in case something befalls the GOP candidate during the campaign.

    Daylin Leach lives in the 7th, is popular with the Dem base, can raise money, and tried running for congress in the 13th. But, we don’t see his hat in the ring for congress in the 7th (and a lot of Dems don’t want to lose him as a progressive voice in the PA senate). Greg Vitale is well known and popular winner, but has a disdain for the kind of fundraising/politics of a congressional campaign, and is a Dem majority house district, so he isn’t going to run either.

    Mary Ellen is a serious person, who speaks meaningfully on the issues, and is well qualified to serve as a representative. She is a professor of political science at La Salle. We would be lucky to have her.

    Mary Ellen is well aware of the difficulties running in this district (and how badly gerrymandered it is and how the Delco GOP machine is a strong as the Delco Dem machine is weak). She is also isn’t a fool who thinks she (or anyone else) is going to raise $7 million for the Dems in this race.

    Even if $7 million was enough to take the seat (it isn’t enough money to win), this one seat simply isn’t worth that much. The DNC/DCCC could dump $300,000 on 20 other close congressional races and get more bang for the buck (ie, at least one win). Even if you could win the 7th, it’s very expensive to keep defending, until you get better redistricting.

  14. As an addendum to my last point, I have nothing against Mary Ellen. But being a nice person doesn’t of itself get you any votes.

  15. The DPI in PA-07 is even. Clearly that’s misleading, because Meehan seems pretty entrenched.

    But let’s look at the numbers.

    2014 – Meehan beats Balchunis by 24 points. That’s not a typo. That’s 24.

    So whatever your thoughts about Lindy Li, Mary Ellen Balchunis is not how the Democrats take back PA-07.

  16. Ryan
    Trivedi was a doctor who also served in Iraq as a battle surgeon. Given the issues in Iraq and Mid East, and the issues of health care, he was well qualified to be a congressman. So, let’s not compare him with Lindy.

    But, the 6th district had been created for Gerlach, and 2010 was a wave year for the GOP. It’s tough to knock out an incumbent. And once you’ve lost, it’s tougher to recover.

  17. @David Diano. My man double D. That was great. I have no interest or involvement in that race other than being a pa repub from the 8th. But. That Disney plot analogy was fantastic!

  18. I got to meet Lindy Li at one of the state committee parties. It went about as well as if I ran into Sestak.

    She was dressed like a Japanese anime cartoon character (blue blazer and short white skirt). This may explain Rendell’s interest, but it’s not going to help with the voters.

    I should point out that I’ve known Mary Ellen for about 10 years, through her involvement with the local Dem party, and have a lot of respect for her, especially for stepping up last year.

    So, back to my story…
    I’m chatting with Lindy, and she bad mouths Mary Ellen, saying that she can’t win. So I said, “I hate to give you the bad news, but you can’t win either. The district is gerrymandered with a 65,000 republican registration advantage.”

    She gets all upset about how I don’t know her and her dreams and nothing is impossible. I explained that I know the district and how the voters turnout. I mention that it took Sestak $3 million to win it with the old boundaries.

    She then claimed she could/would raise $7 million.

    This is a clear disconnect from reality. It was unclear to me if she is just playing a plucky never-say-die character or actually believes the nonsense she was saying.

    If she were a character in a Disney movie, she could come up with a scheme to raise $7 million by having a paper route and getting kids all over the country to sent her $1 from their own weekly paper routes, so she could save the town’s amusement park from being torn down for a freeway. But, this is a real congressional race in a really gerrymandered district that is unwinnable without a picture of Meehan wrestling with Hastert. The national Dems are not going to pour money into this district, especially for a candidate whose resume is about half a page.

    The other people I talked to were divided on the issue. Some said she was merely using the campaign to get recognition and become the next Krystal Ball. Some think she actually believes the stuff she says. No one (else) believes she can raise $7 million.

    She hasn’t even hired fundraising staff, yet. I don’t think she’s ever even worked on a campaign before.

    Toomey has raised over $7 million over the past few years as a sitting U.S. Senator,

    I was trying to picture a debate between her and Mary Ellen. Lindy is about the age of Mary Ellen’s daughter. So, Mary Ellen can capture any youth issue Lindy can bring up by advocating for her daughter. The millennials don’t really vote, but Mary Ellen’s generation does.

    As far as college and education issues, Mary Ellen is a political science professor at La Salle. So, she’s going to know a lot more than a recent graduate (about pretty much everything).

    Lindy comes off as very enthusiastic and very naive. Which is perfectly acceptable for a 24 year old. She’s perfect to be a campaign staffer, but not a candidate, for congress in this district.

  19. I know it is summer but a pretense at real journalism instead of credulously publishing third-rate spin might be worth the time involved. The same gullibility showed up last week covering a vacant Senate seat in Pittsburgh.

  20. where she lived in Malvern was not in PA-07, She was told in PA-06 they had a candidate and don’t run, after Begging Balchunis to run in ’14 Landau who has no class doesn’t have the balls to tell Li no. So he plays her against the middle, but he has finally endorsed Balchunis, who has the support of all 5 county committees. Balchunis is a women and is strong on womens issues, and has the support of Womens groups already. She is a college professor with strong ties to the Millenial. I doubt that she has the support of either Stack or Rendell, she has made up supporters before.

  21. I missed the part where has any experience whatsoever, aside from being “ready to unleash the power of my generation.”

  22. Doing the reporting PPA won’t do:

    “She said she owns a home in Radnor and has an apartment in New York, where she previously worked for Morgan Stanley. She said she left that job to focus on her campaign.”

    Another carpetbagger in the mold of Trivedi and Strouse.

  23. You know what, good for her for being a yale ung person who is willing to actively engage in politics!

    All you cynics should just shut up for a minute and give her credit for being braver than you are!

  24. She would be better off running in PA-2, betting that Fattah has major legal problems and has to resign. If that happens all she would have to do is get a plurality in a multi-candidate Democratic primary.

  25. I’m sorry but the likelyhood of this happening is slim to nill. If you look at the history of that district candidates from the mainline seldom if ever get elected. The last one was the former member of the board of commissioner in Radnor township in the late 40-50s. She assumes that with her Philadelphia grassroots, connection at Harvard and a local prep school (Agnes Irwin) she’ll have an easy fight.

    Don’t forget, part of Malvern is in the gerrymandered PA07.

    I think we have to look at the time Bill Spingler, life long resident of DELCO/Radnor ran and is well respected in democrat circles and failed. The PA07 does NOT respond well to mainliners. It’s a nice thought but I think with recent GOP selection of somone pro-union and a district that like it’s hard working “tough” guys.

    Does she have a chance? Possibly. The fact that she’s young, pretty, intelligent and likely will get support from a lot of women’s organizations is something to recognized.

    But Meehan is an old GOP politico, working closely with Specter (before he went senile) and ran the Santorum campaign (the good one).

    “Her platform includes many of the issues important to millennial voters, such as college affordability, climate change, women’s rights, and campaign finance reform.” Other than college affordability reform….none of these issues will matter in the PA07, with strong industrial ties. Sorry.

  26. And the reason party leaders talked her out of CD-6? She has ZERO chance of winning, so rather her be the sacrificial lamb to Meehan’s endless campaign coffers as opposed to taking on freshman Costello in a year that will be much friendlier to Democrats than last year. That district will be much more winnable this year (still an uphill battle regardless). CD-8 is still the only real tossup congressional contest in 2016 so far unless Dems get a top-notch recruit in CD-6!

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