The youngest generation in the U.S. that’s eligible to run for political office is lining up to do so, as they’re frustrated about the aging candidates for public office being put forward by the major parties.
Following the midterm elections in 2022, Florida Democratic Representative Maxwell Frost became the first Gen Z member to win a seat in Congress. The generation generally includes people who were born in 1997 or later.
Two years later, at least two other Democrats who are members of Gen Z are trying to join Congress just as Frost did. The median age of voting members in the lower chamber of Congress is about 58 years.
Cheyenne Hunt, a 26-year-old attorney running for a seat in the House representing the 45th District in California, said recently:
“Young people, as we’ve gotten more and more involved, are frankly devastated that this is the state of government that we are inheriting – and that we have to really pick up this work and try to put the pieces back together.”
According to Hunt, younger Americans are concerned about the general state of democracy, women’s rights and climate change, all of which she said are “existential threats” that powerful older politicians aren’t doing enough to address.
“Young people are keenly aware of this situation and are jumping in at unprecedented rates because we know we can’t afford to wait.”
If Hunt were to win the Democratic primary this year, she’ll likely face off against incumbent Republican Representative Michelle Steel. During the 2022 midterms, Steel won re-election to her seat by only a few points.
And if she were to win, Hunt would be the first Congress member who is a female and member of Gen Z.
Yet, despite the fact that more younger Americans are getting involved in politics, Hunt said she isn’t surprised more females her age aren’t doing so.
She cited a gender bias she’s experienced while on the campaign trail when she said:
“Trying to be the first and being the only of anything is always a really difficult experience. And it’s been really frustrating, frankly. I have seen folks really hesitate to support me and had conversations after the fact that exposed that a big part of that is internalized sexism.”
The other Gen Zer running for a seat in the House is Maryland state Delegate Joe Vogel. He’s also looking to become the first openly LGBTQ Gen Z member to win election to Congress.
She said she first entered political life back in 2012 following the Connecticut mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The 26-year-old Vogel said he was at first “frustrated by the inaction” on gun violence issues, which have had a huge direct impact on how young Americans have experienced school.
As he explained:
“I think our entire generation is having this moment where we’re channeling that energy and channeling that urgency into having more political representation in terms of the issues.”