Tags: 18-year-old | state legislator | West Virginia | Republican

18-Year-Old Becomes Youngest State Legislator

By    |   Wednesday, 05 November 2014 04:36 PM

West Virginia University freshman Saira Blair, who ran her campaign out of her dorm room, Tuesday became the nation's youngest state lawmaker, winning her election at the age of 18.

Blair, a Republican, defeated her Democratic opponent, Layne Diehl, 44, by a 63 percent to 30 percent vote, with a third candidate getting the remaining 7 percent, reports The Wall Street Journal.

"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," Blair said in a statement.

She describes herself as a fiscal conservative who holds pro-life and pro-gun positions.

Diehl, an attorney from Martinsburg, had ran on a platform that included improvements for secondary education and work on solving West Virginia's drug epidemic issues.

Diehl said she's proud of how the race was run on both sides, and knew that she was running in a state that was dissatisfied with Democrats, including with the Obama administration's effect on the state's coal industry.

"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," said Diehl. "I look forward to seeing what her leadership brings to the state of West Virginia."

Blair got her place in the election by defeating 66-year-old Republican incumbent Larry Kump while she was just 17 years old, still in high school, and not legally old enough to vote.

Blair, who turned 18 on July 11, comes from a political background, as her father, Craig Blair, is a state senator.

When she won the primary, Blair said she doesn't think the legislative job "is rocket science by any means — not if you just listen to the people."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Blair is the youngest state lawmaker in the nation. Out of 7,300 state legislators, fewer than 5 percent are under the age of 30, the records show.

Blair plans to put off her spring semester at WVU to attend the legislature's 60-day session, and will make up her classes this summer and fall.

In her campaign, the economics major who hopes to become a financial planner one day said her age was an asset and the voices of younger voters should be heard in Charleston, the state's capital.

Blair also spent almost $4,000 of her own money on the campaign, commenting that "candidates should have some skin in the game."

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West Virginia University freshman Saira Blair, who ran her campaign out of her dorm room, Tuesday became the nation's youngest state lawmaker, winning her election at the age of 18.
18-year-old, state legislator, West Virginia, Republican
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2014-36-05
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 04:36 PM
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