18 Year-Old College Freshman Wins Election To West Virginia State Legislature

Saira Blair

An eighteen year old college freshman won election to the West Virginia State Legislature on Tuesday:

A West Virginia University freshman who did most of her campaigning out of her dorm room became the youngest state lawmaker in the nation Tuesday.

Republican Saira Blair, a fiscally conservative 18-year-old, will represent a small district in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, about 1½ hours outside Washington, D.C., after defeating her Democratic opponent 63% to 30%, according to the Associated Press. A third candidate got 7% of the vote.

(…)

Ms. Blair campaigned on a pledge to work to reduce certain taxes on businesses, and she also holds antiabortion and pro-gun positions. She defeated Democrat Layne Diehl, a 44-year-old Martinsburg attorney, whose top priorities included improving secondary education and solving the state’s drug epidemic.
Ms. Diehl congratulated Ms. Blair on running a good campaign and said she knew she was also up against broad dissatisfaction with Democrats in the state, partly from the widely held view that the Obama administration’s energy policies are hurting the coal industry.

“I’m very proud of the race that was run on both sides,” Ms. Diehl said. “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.”

Ms. Blair gained national attention in May when she defeated the 66-year-old Republican incumbent in a primary when she was 17.

She will be the youngest state lawmaker in the nation, according to records kept by the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are more than 7,300 state legislators in the U.S., and fewer than 5% are under the age of 30, according to Morgan Cullen, a policy analyst at NCSL.

Ms. Blair said she would defer her spring semester to attend the part-time legislature’s 60-day session and make up classes in the summer and fall. She promoted her youth as an asset during the campaign, saying the voice of younger voters should be heard in the state capitol. An economics major, she hopes to become a financial planner, and she supports term limits.

Regardless of what one thinks of her political positions, and no doubt many OTB readers will disagree with Blair on issues like guns and economic policy, it’s good to see someone so young putting themselves out there like this. Whether its the beginning of a political career or not remains to be seen, but I think she’s worth keeping an eye on when it comes time that she’s old enough to run for higher office and one would hope that some of Blair’s contemporaries will see something like this as a reason for them to become more involved in their futures than they seem to be today.

Photo via Saira Blair for West Virginia

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pinky says:

    Now that is someone who looks like Taylor Swift and votes like Michele Bachmann, and no one in the world can call me sexist for saying it.

  2. DrDaveT says:

    When was the last time a university student had a vote on the university’s budget?

  3. Tillman says:

    Well, there’s no place better for paid on-the-job training than parliamentary democracy.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    She loves guns and opposes abortion?
    Well, at least that’s a very common inconsistency.

    3 … 2 … 1 …

  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    The DERP is strong with her… She is getting her grift on, FAST !!!

    Blair…

    Blair!

    That’s it! I remember now!

    She does look a bit like Linda Blair, the actress that was in “The Exorcist”

    Hmmm… wonder how that is gonna turn out.

    full disclosure: I was once considering law & politics as a career while in college… so I volunteered as an aide in the State Legislature. I wanted to work with a DEM, but the GOP had the only open slot. Seeing the day-to-day activity in that office convinced me that I had FAR better things that I could be doing with my life.

  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Regardless of what one thinks of her political positions, and no doubt many OTB readers will disagree with Blair on issues like guns and economic policy, it’s good to see someone so young putting themselves out there like this. Whether its the beginning of a political career or not remains to be seen, but I think she’s worth keeping an eye on when it comes time that she’s old enough to run for higher office and one would hope that some of Blair’s contemporaries will see something like this as a reason for them to become more involved in their futures than they seem to be today.

    Hey, the GOP role models for women (Palin, Bachmann and now Ernst) make it VERY clear that ANYONE can run for office! Absolutely ANYONE !

    Ha!

    Imagine a Palin / Bachmann vs. Clinton / Warren tag team fight…

    Man, that’s one that SNL should do. 🙂

  7. KM says:

    Good for her – always nice to see someone under 50 really giving a damn about politics.

  8. DG says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Yeah, because Dems. like Sheila Jackson Lee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are frickin geniuses. Both parties suck.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Hey, that’s a Mooney sign in the background. Her district overlaps with the first Latino Representative from West Virginia mentioned two threads over.

    Meaningless, but kind of neat.

  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @DG:

    Yeah, because Dems. like Sheila Jackson Lee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are frickin geniuses. Both parties suck.

    You’re absolutely right… Pull Elizabeth Warren out of the mix and add in Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the tag team mud wrestle match.

    She’s feisty!

    Face it: The GOP won the midterms by choosing NOT to govern in the last 6 years and pull a filibuster on nearly everything they could, right?

    That way, government was “broke” and they could say that government was “broke”…so elect them!

    Clearly, having any skills that would benefit actually governing no longer matter.

    So, bring on the tag team mud wrestling, and look forward to President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

  11. bill says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: but democrats will always have shelia jackson lee- whenever you think someone else has done/said something totally wack, she’ll raise (lower) the bar.

  12. Tony W says:

    I am surprised anybody that young, and in college(!) would choose to be a Republican. I guess they won’t all die off in the next couple of decades…. Still, inherited conservatism has to be a losing proposition in the long-term.