Youngest Elected Politician is Only 18!

Saira Blair's recent victory in the West Virginia House of Delegates is a milestone in the nation's political history.

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www.blairforwv.com

One of Saira Blair's Campaign advertisements.

Sarah Chen, Photojournalist

Saira Blair made headlines this election cycle when she became the youngest elected official in American History. She now has a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates. In the official election, Blair defeated the Democratic contender, forty-one year old Layne Diehl in a landslide vote of 63% to 30%.

Since the election in November, Blair has represented the 59th district of West Virginia. Blair is pro-gun and pro-life, as well as a supporter of voter ID laws. She also opposes same-sex marriages. The Second Amendment is a particular focus for Blair. Her campaign page states, “Firearms allow our law abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families.” She is endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) along with twenty other groups.

“I think it’s amazing that someone our age is a part of the state legislature,” said Timothy Lue (11). “Her success lets me believe that there really is no age barrier. It makes me reflect on what I’m doing and what she has already achieved.”

Blair’s campaign began during her senior year. Her community was very supportive of her, especially her peers who rallied for her. Within her own campaign, Blair contributed $4,000 by herself. She believes that, “Candidates should have some skin in the game.” She won her first election before she could vote. At seventeen, Blair defeated the Republican incumbent, sixty-six year old Larry Kump in the primary.

Blair’s father is Craig Blair, a West Virginia State Senator. She often got the chance to shadow her father, being his campaign manager and accompanying him to meetings. She separated her views from her parents. Blair says, “In fact, there are issues [my parents and I] don’t agree on completely, like I don’t believe in the morning-after pill, but my father does. I’m actually more conservative in some ways.”

Layne Diehl, the Democratic contender, accepted her defeat and congratulated the teenager, “It is the collective voice of the people that determines how we will be governed. I have come to truly respect my opponent, Ms. Blair.” She also noted that “Ms. Blair’s candidacy has brought [West Virginia] a national spotlight that is very uplifting and that I hope will encourage young people throughout the country to get involved and to contribute what they have to make a difference as early as they can in life.”

However, Blair has no intention of becoming a politician. Her decision to run for office is tied to her belief that “[her] generation’s voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of [West Virginia’s] most challenging issues.”

“I’m not looking to become a career politician,” she says. “I don’t want to climb up the ladder. I’m doing this because I want to help the state of West Virginia; I want to help my community. I’m not trying to work my way up to President.”

Today, Blair is a freshman at West Virginia University, majoring in Economics. She plans on becoming a financial advisor one day. Blair will be deferring her spring semester to attend a sixty-day session of legislature.