18-year-old Republican campaigns out of dorm room, becomes youngest state lawmaker in America
An 18-year-old West Virginia University (WVU) student became America’s youngest state lawmaker Tuesday, beating out her Democratic opponent by 33 percent in the polls.
Saira Blair, a fiscally conservative freshman who often campaigned out of her dorm room, will be representing a small district in West Virginia's eastern panhandle, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Blair defeated 44-year-old Democratic opponent Layne Diehl 63 to 30 percent, with seven percent of the votes going to a third candidate, according to The Associated Press.
“I’m very proud of the race that was run on both sides,” said Diehl. “Quite frankly a 17- or 18-year-old young woman that has put herself out there and won a political campaign has certainly brought some positive press to the state. I look forward to seeing what her leadership brings to the state of West Virginia.”
The pro-life, pro-gun teen, says she will work to reduce certain taxes on businesses and is eager to represent the youth voices in the state capitol. Voters found it difficult to hold her age against her, after she beat 66-year-old incumbent Larry Kump in Republican primaries back in May when she was just 17-years-old.
“Candidates should have some skin in the game,” Blair said in a recent interview, according to The Wall Street Journal. “I wanted voters to know I was serious.”
According to Morgan Cullen, policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are more than 7,300 state legislators in the U.S. and only five percent are less than 30-years-old. The closest delegate even close to Blair’s age was 20-year-old Larry Swan, who was sworn in back in 1972.
“Today, the voters of the 59th District in the great state of West Virginia sent a clear message that the path to prosperity and success is rooted in conservative values and principles,” Blair wrote in a Facebook post. I am honored and humbled to have been elected the youngest member to ever serve in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
“I am deeply grateful to my supporters, volunteers, friends and family for their hard work during the campaign. I also want to thank my opponents for a running a positive and competitive race.”
Blair says she plans to return to her classes UWV in the summer and fall semesters but must defer her spring semester to attend a a part-time legislator 60-day session.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Blair bestowed nearly $4,000 to her own campaign.
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