Friday 23 February 2018

US schoolgirl on course to become youngest ever legislator

17-year-old Saira Blair unseated West Virginia House of Delegates member Larry Kump
17-year-old Saira Blair unseated West Virginia House of Delegates member Larry Kump
Victory: Saira Blair

Raf Sanchez in Washington

At 17, Saira Blair is only barely old enough to drive. But the West Virginia schoolgirl is on course to become America's youngest state legislator after unseating a Republican nearly four times her age.

Ms Blair ran as a hard-line conservative in her successful attempt to defeat Larry Kump, a 67-year-old member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. The high school student touted her support for gun owners and her opposition to abortion as she charged to an 872-728 victory.

"People saw that you don't need to wait until you are 40, 50 or 60 to realise our conservative principles are beneficial to everyone," said Ms Blair.

She enlisted classmates at Hedgesville High School to knock on doors and plant campaign signs on the side of the road.

"Quite frankly, she out-campaigned me," admitted Mr Kump.

Her victory in Tuesday's Republican primary means she will be the official Republican candidate in November's general election and will face a 44-year-old Democrat lawyer.

If elected in November, she will be the youngest state legislator in West Virginia and possibly the youngest in US history.

Ms Blair will be 18 by November and so was allowed to vote in this week's election, but many of her friends were unable to do so.

She heads to university in the autumn and if elected will have to juggle first-year classes with her first term in office.

West Virginian legislators are paid $20,000 a year and sit only between January and March.

But Ms Blair's political record pales in comparison to that of Bobby Tuft, who was first "elected" mayor of Dorset, Minnesota, at the age of three when his name was drawn randomly out of a hat. A year later, he won a second term when his name was picked again. The hamlet has between 22 and 28 residents and no formal government. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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