The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Young guns
Next generation getting more involved in politics

By Ryan Lessard

 More young people are getting involved in politics in the state, according to the New Hampshire Young Democrats and New Hampshire Young Republicans, with a marked increase in people age 40 and under running for elected office and expressing interest in running.

Seeking office and providing candidate support
Lucas Meyer, the president of NHYD, said the ballot for this year’s municipal elections in Manchester has a record number of young Democratic candidates.
“It hasn’t been tough to recruit kids to run for office,” Meyer said. “They’re sick and tired of sitting on the sidelines. So young Dems across the state are looking to get involved and to run for office.”
There are 21 young Democrats filed to run in Manchester, three of whom are running for alderman. The youngest is Hassan Essa, 19, who is running for Ward 12. Another 19-year-old, Ethan Moorehouse, is running for school board in Ward 7. The primary in Manchester is on Sept. 19 and the general election is on Nov. 7.
There are more young Republicans getting involved in politics as well, according to 23-year-old NHYR Chairman Joe Sweeney.
“I definitely think there’s more young people involved in the process. It’s a very interesting time to be involved in politics in our state and our country,” Sweeney said. “People are definitely seeing an opening as millennials and the younger generation are becoming a bigger percentage of the voting population.”
He pointed to several examples of fresh-faced young Republicans in the House, such as Yvonne Dean-Bailey, Nick Zaricki and others. 
Sweeney said there’s a strong contingent of young people helping other people get elected behind the scenes with neighborhood canvassing, phone-banking and sign-waving. And they’re willing to mobilize across the state for special elections like the recent one in Grafton County District 9, which was won by Republican Vincent Paul Migliore.
“We just had the Grafton 9 election yesterday, and the Republican candidate wasn’t a young Republican, but every weekend we had young Republicans driving up from the Seacoast, from Nashua, from Manchester, driving up to Grafton 9 to go door-to-door for him,” Sweeney said.
The Trump factor
Young Republicans, just like their older counterparts, are divided on their support of the Trump administration, but Sweeney said they tend to focus on local issues.
Conversely, Meyer said Donald Trump’s election and subsequent actions have spurred many young Democrats to action.
“It’s no secret that President Trump is a huge motivating factor for young people running for office,” Meyer said.
He said many young liberals felt like they were caught sleeping after the election and realized they needed to take action into their own hands if they wanted their ideals reflected in public policy. 
Sweeney said most young Republicans are also energized by having the country’s youngest governor who prioritizes things like full-day kindergarten and having a 21st-century economy. 
“For me, it’s really been the opioid crisis — having kids I went to high school with, seeing them in the papers, overdosing in Salem and just hearing stories about kids that I know who are now addicted to drugs,” Sweeney said. 
Generally, he said more young people find their ideals align with the libertarian wing of the party.
“I believe that our message of limited government and allowing people to do more and be more, which allows all of us to achieve more, is a message that really resonates with the younger generation,” Sweeney said.
Forward thinking
Earlier in June, NHYD hosted a training event for young people who are either running for municipal office right now or have expressed interest in running for the Statehouse in 2018. There were about 50 people in attendance, Meyer said. It was the first time they ever did such a training. NHYD also has a program for developing a new bench of young candidates and helping them win elections called 603 Forward. But Meyer said even without recruitment efforts, people have been reaching out organically by phone or through social media. 
Sweeney said having more young people on both sides of the aisle is good for everyone as he thinks that new energy will lead to a real substantive debate on the issues. 

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