The college freshman was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in a landslide—she earned 63 percent of the vote to her 44-year-old Democratic opponent’s 30 percent—and officially became the youngest lawmaker in the country. She’ll represent a district of about 18,000 people in the eastern part of the state, near the Maryland border. The Wall Street Journal describes Blair as “fiscally conservative,” and she “campaigned on a pledge to work to reduce certain taxes on businesses.” Her website boasts an “A” rating from the NRA and endorsements from West Virginians for Life. As a 17-year-old, Blair primaried the 66-year-old Republican incumbent Larry Kump and advanced to the general election—all while legally being unable to cast a vote for herself.
Kris Maher highlights her opponent’s uncommonly civil response:
Ms. [Layne] 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.”
Mahler notes that only 5 percent of the nation’s 7,300 state legislators are under 30, let alone 20. Update from a reader:
I think it’s important to highlight that Saira’s father is Craig Blair, a state senator in WV who has represented that part of the state in the House of Delegates or Senate for most of the last 12 years and managed her campaign (something that Brodey’s article mentions in the last paragraph). I’m a young voter and am happy to see someone of my generation writing laws. But the story around Saira is much more “up by her bootstraps” than “silver spoon.” I’m sure she worked hard to get elected, but I highly doubt she would have made it past the primaries if not for her dad’s connections and name recognition. It feels a bit disingenuous on the part of most of the media to neglect to mention this.