Meet the ‘Twink of Death’ Cursing Every Democrat’s 2020 Campaign

Whose election dreams will he dash next?

He tanked Beto O’Rourke’s campaign. He killed Kamala Harris’ chances. And just last week, he banjaxed Pete Buttigieg’s run, too.

On Twitter, he’s called the Twink of Death. Others say he’s Gay Kryptonite. On the street, though, he’s hiding in plain sight as a gay white guy with a beard.

His real name is Danny Wein, a San Francisco–based communications professional. He tells MEL he’s proud of his inadvertent political casualties. “I can’t imagine a better internet claim to fame than being enthusiastic about public servants like Beto, Kamala and Pete,” Wein says.

In December, Wein went viral on Twitter after an account shared four photos taken from his Instagram. The first is a selfie Wein took after voting in the 2018 midterm elections. The next three: Wein posing with a “Beto 2020” T-shirt; Wein with a Harris poster; finally, Wein in a “Pete 2020” tee.

“Rule of threes. This twink of death is coming for Pete next,” @dccised captioned the tweet.

The Twink of Death prophecy was fulfilled on March 1st when Buttigieg dropped out of the race. Still, Wein says he’s (mostly) taking his “curse” in stride, although he doesn’t enjoy the “white gay stereotype” narrative that’s levied against many queer Buttigieg supporters. “That feels like an ugly, racialized angle that I don’t want to be part of,” he says.

And he has no reservations about whom he’s supported. “Whether due to my curse — or the complexity of coalition politics — their departures from the race take nothing away from the immensely bright futures they each have in the party,” he says.

“I think it’s a futile effort to be offended by a meme, so I’ve enjoyed it! It helps that the tone has been fun and playful,” Wein adds.

As for the titles Gay Kryptonite and Twink of Death, they’re not entirely accurate. “Anyone who knows me would accurately call me an otter, not a twink,” Wein cautions — though “both sound like worthy contenders for my drag name.”

Wein wants it to be known he hasn’t lost every campaign he’s supported. “I’d previously worked on a congressional race, senate race and even a state parliamentary race in Australia — and all three campaigns won,” he says. Since then, he’s four for four:

  • In 2018, Wein donated to O’Rourke’s U.S. Senate run in Texas. O’Rourke lost to incumbent Ted Cruz.
  • Wein then backed Beto’s 2019 presidential run. O’Rourke suspended his campaign in November.
  • In the summer, Wein updated his Instagram in support of Harris after attending her presidential announcement in Oakland. Harris dropped out in early December.
  • Shortly after, Wein switched to Buttigieg’s campaign and became a Gay Twitter meme.

Working for Buttigieg, Wein says, he helped set up rallies and town halls as he supported the former mayor in Iowa, Nevada and California. The senior campaign managers were apparently well aware they were working with the Twink of Death: “We all joked that they needed to keep the mayor out of any photos with me in case the internet got their hands on it.”

They might have wanted to take that threat more seriously as a campaign photo of Wein with Buttigieg circulated on Instagram and in a Washington Post slideshow.

So now that Buttigieg is out, whom will the Twink of Death target next?

For the first time this year, Wein isn’t saying who he’s voting for. As a Californian, he voted on Super Tuesday, but he wouldn’t specify to me which name he marked on his ballot.

As for the general election, Wein refuses to use his curse to get Trump out of office. “If I weren’t so genuinely repelled to the racism, xenophobia and anti-intellectualism that Trump’s Republican Party represents, I’d absolutely lean into this meme and don a MAGA hat. But that’s something I have zero interest in having circulate on the internet,” he says.

What about Sanders? “While Bernie isn’t my guy, I’m inspired by the movement he created,” Wein says. “At the end of the day, we’re all one part with a singularly important goal: defeating Donald Trump and putting Democrats into office up and down the ballot.”

For a moment, it looked like Wein was backing current frontrunner Joe Biden. Wein initially supported Joe 2020 in a Facebook post, writing, “Perfect candidates don’t exist, but I trust that Biden’s character and values will be a stark contrast to Trump that our country will respond to.”

He later edited out the endorsement, and when I spoke with him, he initially denied posting it. “My first instinct was to strategically throw my support behind Biden, particularly given Buttigieg’s endorsement of him,” Wein says.

Then he spoke with friends who convinced him to consider someone else: Elizabeth Warren.

“That’s where I stand now: supportive of both Biden and Warren and deciding between them,” he says.

Perhaps he did. On Thursday morning, news broke that Warren was suspending her campaign. Biden’s security team would be wise to have eyes on the Twink of Death, who now is surely backing the former vice president.