Is former Philly congressional candidate Lindy Li a victim of “Bernie Bro” bullying? Or is she an opportunist provoking outrage for political attention?
In this age of social media-roiled presidential politics, that depends on who is tweeting.
Li, running to be a convention delegate for former Vice President Joe Biden, has become a virulent online critic of socialism and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. She claims leaders of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats pressured her to resign Monday as the group’s treasurer because of that criticism.
“This is like Bernie Bro behavior in real life,” said Li, citing aggressive Sanders supporters — especially on social media — that have prompted complaints and concerns among Democrats for their caustic attacks on those who criticize the Vermont senator online. “I wasn’t always like this. They drove me to this.”
Indeed, Li posted a photo of herself with Sanders in Philadelphia in May 2018, 10 days before she finished sixth out of 10 candidates in the Democratic primary in the 5th Congressional District. She sought the endorsement of a local Democratic Socialist group in that race, singing Sanders’ praises.
T.J. DeLuca, who became The Young Democrats president last month, said state Democratic Party officials have been asking about Li’s social media posts but she refused to discuss the issue, beyond exchanging text messages and emails.
“Lindy is putting that pressure on herself,” DeLuca said of her resignation. “She said she would rather resign than talk to me about her Twitter account.”
Li on Monday retweeted a post from another Democratic contender, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, calling out Sanders supporters for having the wrong “type of energy.”
Li sparked a controversy last month, retweeting a tweet calling Sanders a “self-hating Jew.” She then deleted that and tweeted an apology — an action she now says the Young Democrats forced her to take — but later deleted that, too.
The Young Democrats in a Jan. 15 meeting considered requesting Li’s resignation but that motion did not gain enough votes to more forward, according to the meeting minutes.
Li on Monday agreed to resign if the Young Democrats refund the $1,000 in donations she made to the group from 2017 to 2019 and a $250 in-kind contribution she made in 2018.
DeLuca said Li threatened to take her claims of being forced out of the group to Fox News. He again emphasized that she resigned “of her own free will.” Li tweeted last week that she was in New York for a Fox News interview “to discuss the dangers of socialism.”