One of the more interesting Republican victories in the 2014 midterm election is perhaps that of 18-year-old Saira Blair’s landslide victory to the West Virginia House of Delegates. [Insert mainstream media derogatory comparison to average American youth culture here.]
The freshman economics student turned West Virginia lawmaker actually ran a campaign out of her dorm room, contributing $4,000 of her own money to the campaign that led her to victory in the primaries over 66-year-old Republican incumbent Larry Kump last May, when Blair was still only 17 years old, as well as over 44-year-old Democrat attorney Layne Diehl in the recent election. Blair beat out Diehl by a 33 percent margin, 63 to 30, making her the youngest state lawmaker in the country.
Granted $4,000 is nothing in a political race, and there’s a very likely chance that Blair’s father, U.S. Senator Craig Blair, contributed more than just advice to her campaign. It’s also likely that her campaign headquarters being a dorm room is only a partial truth. However, Saira Blair stated that she used a fair amount of her own money (for an average 18-year-old) because, she wanted voters to know she is “serious.”
How serious Blair may be remains to be seen. What remains to be seen even more, however, is how serious the rest of the West Virginia House of Delegates will treat her.
Blair considers herself a fiscal conservative, according to her Facebook page. There, she issued a statement that said “the path to prosperity and success is rooted in conservative values and principles.” Prosperity for whom has not necessarily been defined, but a majority of the country certainly has an idea as to what conservative values are at this point.
Why and how Blair’s run for the W.V. House of Delegates was taken seriously enough to win over a 44-year-old experienced attorney is anyone’s guess. How she beat out a 66-year-old incumbent of her own party is another question worth pondering. It seems both the Democrat and Republican parties will have to scratch their heads over that one for a spell. However, it’s no secret, what with the GOP’s recent attempts at rebranding the party, that they can likely use Blair as a poster child for conservative progress. In Blair, the GOP can pretend to prove that they are beginning to listen more to the voices of youth, and women. Blair’s inexperience can be exploited wholeheartedly if she is not careful. Although, if she is opportunistic enough in nature, she could ride that wave into quite a political career, potentially, too. No doubt her father will be whispering in her ear quite a bit during her time in office, as well.
Prior to the election, Blair had been studying to become a financial planner. Now, she’s putting off her education so that she can attend the legislature’s 60-day session. She plans to take up classes again in the summer and fall, according to The Wall Street Journal, but who knows if that will actually happen. Perhaps a thriving political career active so early, in what’s clearly a political family, might give Blair second thoughts about how she spends her time in the future. I’ll leave all the jokes and comments about uneducated politicians to readers.
Now that Blair will be taking office, she says she’s ready to get down to work.
Part of her statement on her Facebook page also read:
History has been made tonight in West Virginia, and while I am proud of all that we have accomplished together, it is the future of this state that is now my singular focus.
While it is commendable for young people to become so active in politics, and yes, their voices certainly deserve to be part of the national political dialogue, it’s still troubling to ponder whether Blair achieved office through privilege, exploitation, merit, or some muddy mixture of the three.
Can an 18-year-old hold her own in the shark tank of politics, even on the state level? Watching Blair’s time in office should be quite revealing, though she certainly would not be necessarily indicative of any and all youth who may find themselves in office at the green young age of 18 someday.
Like so many other things in life, time will tell. If only she was progressive…