21-year-old LI Youth Leadership School grad beats 10-term incumbent in North Carolina Republican primary

Wyatt Gable, who graduated from the Leadership Institute’s Youth Leadership School, recently defeated a long-term incumbent in a North Carolina election.

‘I want to be proactive not reactive and actually be there for the people of my district and state,’ he told Campus Reform.

Picture taken from Wyatt Gable's X account.

East Carolina University (ECU) junior Wyatt Gable, 21, defeated 10-term incumbent State Rep. George Cleveland, 84, of Onslow County in a Republican Primary election for the North Carolina House.

Gable is a graduate of the Leadership Institute’s Youth Leadership School, a training program that equips students with essential skills for effective leadership. He also previously attended a Leadership Institute Student Activism Conference.

The Associated Press called a narrow victory for Gable on March 7.

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Gable told Campus Reform that his experiences in both LI’s Youth Leadership School and Student Activism Conference were helpful to his campaign. He highlighted the “statistics [that he learned] on how to reach people and the interview training.”

When asked about his initial decision to run, Gable told Campus Reform that he was confident and not intimidated by his young age: “I decided to run during all the covid lock downs and make a difference because no one else would.” 

Gable is a 15-year Onslow County resident and the ECU Chapter President of Turning Point USA, and listed some of his campaign issues as protecting the Second Amendment, fighting restrictive COVID regulations, and defending national monuments, according to his website

“Wyatt Gable has firsthand experience of the problems with today’s education system,” his campaign website reads. “He also strongly believes that we should bring back home economics, personal finances, and most importantly teaching our youth about the greatness of America, and how it is a true privilege to live here.”

Gable will face Democrat Carmen Spicer in the general election, the Associated Press wrote. 

The 21-year-old student told Campus Reform that he plans to win by doing “the exact same things we did in the primary but with our very republican district we want to have the biggest margin of victory my seat had ever had. I want to be proactive not reactive and actually be there for the people of my district and state.”

[RELATED: Student wins election at UGA after Leadership Institute training]

In 2023, Gable protested against a university attempt to inquire about restroom preferences through a survey sent to students and staff that included an “all gender only” selection. 

“We see bathrooms as a place that’s safe for people if they want to avoid the opposite gender and now we’re having an invasion of privacy,” he told local news outlet WITN

Campus Reform has contacted State Rep. George Cleveland, Carmen Spicer, and East Carolina University for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.