Millennial elected to Florida House of Representatives at age 23
Jennifer Sullivan, a 23 year old Republican, was elected into the Florida House of Representatives last week after trouncing her competitor by a six-point margin.
Sullivan, a millennial who lives at home with her parents, is determined to prove that age does not exclude her from fighting for what she believes in.
"It doesn’t take a 40 year business owner to know that big government is bad, little government is good, we need less taxes, less regulations, and we need someone who is going to be a fighter for the people.”
“Don’t discriminate against me because of my age,” Sullivan told Campus Reform in an interview. “I may only be 23, but I was able to work harder than anyone else in this race and I was able to do the research I needed to speak intellectually to the issues at hand.”
Sullivan faced adversity from rivals who clung to her age and assumed lack of experience in their campaigns. In a mailer promoting Republican opponent Terri Seefeldt, Mark Zubaly from Southern Campaign Resources Inc. wrote, “[s]tate Representative isn’t an internship or job training course” and “[c]an a 23-year old still living at home truly represent us?”
Despite the harsh criticism, Sullivan is keeping her head high and told Campus Reform that “I won this race knocking on doors, building relationships with individuals, doing more listening than talking, hearing what are their concerns and how can I be an advocate to help them.”
“I admit that I don’t have all the answers,” Sullivan said, “what I do know is that it doesn’t take a 40 year business owner to know that big government is bad, little government is good, we need less taxes, less regulations, and we need someone who is going to be a fighter for the people.”
Sullivan notes that she didn’t spend her summers hanging out on the beach. Instead “[her and her friends] spent it knocking on doors … because they believe[d] in what [she] stood for.” The Vote for Jennifer campaign--also known as #FreshFace--was operated out of her parents’ Lake County home.
Sullivan is the oldest of her four siblings and still partakes in arguments over who is going to do the dishes. Despite the distractions, she was able to raise $10,000 in just ten day.
However, her recent success in the polls isn’t indicative of national political aspirations in the future. In fact, acknowledging Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s rumored 2016 presidential run, Sullivan says that she would rather return to her district to work for the private sector once her position in the statehouse concludes.
“We have way too many career politicians and what happens is they become out of touch with their district or their constituents that they represent,” Sullivan told Campus Reform. “I’m excited for the opportunity to serve and to go back home and hopefully reap the benefits of policies that would help strengthen my own business and my community.”
Sullivan attributes much of her success to the leadership sessions she participated in prior to her political pursuits, including training seminars held by the Leadership Institute.
“There’s so many different leadership camps that really just gave me the life skills and leadership skills I needed to be successful, so [Leadership Institute] was definitely a part of that.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO