She may have just graduated high school a matter of months ago, but 18-year-old Saira Blair is already ahead of the curve: She's just been elected West Virginia's youngest new lawmaker, and by extension, the nation's youngest lawmaker. The fiscally conservative teen is posed to represent a small district in her home state, which sits an hour and a half outside of Washington, D.C.
And in case you're thinking this was a narrow victory, think again. Blair beat her Democratic opponent by a real landslide—63 percent to 30 percent with a third candidate getting a mere 7 percent.
The young Republican is now a freshman at West Virginia University, which is where she managed to do most of her campaigning—right from her dorm room. Needless to say, this isn't exactly how most college freshmen are spending their first semester, but that's because Blair isn't your average college freshman.
“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,” she said in a statement released Tuesday.
As for her campaign promises, which included reducing certain taxes for businesses, Blair fared better than her opponents who chose to focus on improving secondary education and resolving the state's growing drug epidemic. (Apparently, these causes didn't strike as deep of a chord with voters.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, part of Blair's popularity may have had a lot to do with the state's increasing unhappiness with Democratic leadership, which many say stem from the Obama administration's energy policies and the impact they've had on West Virginia's coal industry.
But while you might assume her opponents are bitter about losing out to an 18-year-old, it doesn't seem so. (At least, not officially.)
“I’m very proud of the race that was run on both sides,” said one of Blair's opponents Layne Diehl. “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.”
As for how she'll handle representing a district and acing her finals? Blair admits she'll have to defer her spring semester to attend the part-time legislature’s 60-day session. She'll also have to make up classes in the summer and next fall. But to the economics major, it's all worth it. In fact, so devoted was she to her own campaign that she dumped nearly $4,000 to her own savings into the campaign.
“Candidates should have some skin in the game,” Blair said in an interview. “I wanted voters to know I was serious.”