A little more than three months before Pennsylvania is scheduled to hold its primary election, 25-year-old congressional candidate Lindy Li — who, if elected, would become the youngest member of the House of Representatives — has decided to change the district where she will run.
Li, a former financial analyst with Morgan Stanley, was originally one of three Democrats challenging three-term Republican incumbent Rep. Patrick Meehan, who represents the 7th Congressional District near Philadelphia, one of the nation’s most gerrymandered according to The Washington Post. But Li told NBC News that local and state party leadership, which she said originally encouraged her to run in the 7th District, had asked her to switch to the neighboring 6th District where she grew up.
Mike Parrish, an army veteran and businessman, is the other Democratic candidate running in the 6th District against freshman Republican Rep. Ryan Costello. According to Roll Call, Parrish’s campaign had “floundered,” with $26,445 in cash on hand, and Democratic strategists were looking for someone else to challenge Costello in the general election.
In a statement to NBC News, Parrish said he has the experience needed to “fix” a Congress that is broken. “Our campaign continues to focus on the need for change in Washington, and nothing has happened that changes that,” he said.
For her part, Li said she isn’t running for Congress as an experiment. “We’ve raised a formidable war chest, and we have the institutional political support needed,” said Li, who has around $250,000 in cash on hand according to Federal Election Commission records.
Asked if she might have a stronger chance of defeating Parrish in the April 26 primary than the two other candidates in the 7th District, Li said, “Perhaps. The national landscape didn’t factor into my decision making. I’m doing this because I wanted to serve the 6th all along, and the other guy just wasn’t getting the job done.”
Li, a Princeton University graduate who emigrated to the United States from China at the age of 5, said she had lived for 16 years in the 6th District in southeastern Pennsylvania, where she attended elementary, middle, and high school. She added that she worked for three years in the 7th District at Merck Pharmaceuticals. While congressional candidates are not required to live in the districts they represent, Li noted that her family home is in Malvern, located in the 6th District.
For both districts, Li said the issues that matter most to residents are fundamentally the same. They include fighting income inequality, making education affordable for all, and reforming the campaign finance system, according to Li’s website. Calling herself a “Blue Dog Democrat,” a term generally given to Democrats who are fiscally conservative, Li said it is important to stake out the middle ground.
“Right now the political process is dictated by people who are not part of the Millennial generation, but we can make a difference,” Li said. “This is an election of the future. It’s not about the past.”