On Tuesday, 18-year-old Republican Saira Blair became the youngest lawmaker in the United States, when she was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Blair, who is currently a freshman, majoring in Economics at West Virginia University, defeated her democratic opponent, Layne Diehl, by receiving 63 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s 59th delegate district.
POLITICO reported that Blair “launched her campaign earlier this year and unseated a two-term incumbent in a May primary – the first time she could vote herself.”
“I’d been involved with politics since I was about 6 years old, when my father first ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates,” said Blair, who explained that she had spent the last 10 years watching and shadowing her father, Craig Blair, as he made his way to becoming a state Senator.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Blair contributed nearly $4,000 to her own campaign. “Candidates should have some skin in the game,” said Blair. “I wanted voters to know I was serious.”
After becoming involved with student government, Blair became passionate about individuals her age taking part in politics, and making a difference.
“When I saw how capable the students were of creating such progressive legislation and really getting work done, it really made me realize that we really didn’t need to wait,” Blair said.
Newsweek reported that Blair’s main goals include creating jobs, repealing the Unfair Trade Practice Act that keeps West Virginia’s gas prices from competing with bordering states, and making West Virginia a right-to-work state, which allows employees to “make their own decision about whether to join or support a union.”
According to POLITICO, Blair “pushed back against criticism that young people are apathetic and Democratic claims that the GOP has a war on women.”
“The most negativity that I get for my age and for my gender is from the Democratic Party, not from my own,” Blair said.
Blair announced that after the fall semester, she will not be returning to school in the spring, but will instead work as a delegate for a semester, before returning to school in the summer and fall.
“For far too long, West Virginians have been burdened by high unemployment, a sluggish economy, and a government unwilling to listen to the needs of its citizens,” said Blair, in a statement on her Facebook page.
“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,” said Blair. “When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation’s voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state’s most challenging issues.”