Millennial Candidates: The Key to Breaking Government Gridlock?

Created: 30 June, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
4 min read

While Congress has continued to diversify over the last decade in terms of both gender and race, one element that has not changed is the average age of the institution’s members. The 113th Congress had an average age of 57 years and with Senators, it was 62 years old.

However, there are some notable millennials (18-33) running for Congress this year. In order to run for Congress, one needs to be 25-years-old and 30 to run for Senate, so only the older group of this generation can even run for Congress.

Here are some of the top young names to watch this election cycle, and possibly for many election cycles to come.

Elise Stefanik: New York, 21st Congressional District, Republican

Stefanik made waves in 2014 as the youngest congresswoman in history at the age of 30. Now 32, she is running for re-election.

A Harvard grad, she worked in George W. Bush’s White House before working with Paul Ryan’s campaign for Vice President. Now in Congress, she serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

One of her most notable moves so far has been to introduce a bill called Establishing Digital Interactive Transparency Act which will allow users to view changes made to bills and resolutions. Her campaign is very focused on the economy, stressing tax code reforms and reducing regulatory burdens.

Patrick Murphy: Florida, Senate, Democrat

Murphy is a two-time congressman who is looking to take the next step into the U.S. Senate. At age 33, he is an experienced politician already.

At the age of 29, he defeated Allen West to win his first congressional race by 0.8% of the vote in what was also deemed the most expensive U.S. House race in history. When Murphy first declared his candidacy, the seat looked like it would be open. However, since Rubio’s failed presidential campaign, he filed right before the deadline to try and retain his seat which makes Murphy’s race even more difficult. He is currently on the House Committee on Financial Services and Committee on Intelligence.

Bryan Caforio: California, 25th Congressional District, Democrat

Challenging freshman Steve Knight, the UCLA and Yale Law graduate is running on values of improving the economy for the middle class and protecting social security.

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He worked as an attorney for the law firm of Susman Godfrey before launching his campaign. He faces accusations of carpetbagging to challenge a vulnerable opponent. However, this did not prevent a successful primary campaign against Lou Vince where he won almost double the votes.

Terry Hollingsworth: Indiana, 9th Congressional District, Republican

In a five-way primary campaign, Joseph A. “Trey” Hollingsworth defeated his fellow republicans and will face Shelli Yoder in the fall. His campaign was controversial because he only moved to the state shortly before the election.

From Tennessee, he had never voted in a primary in Indiana before his own election (or perhaps any primary). A successful business man and 32-years of age, he funded most of the campaign himself and has pushed for ideas such as term limits for congressmen, an idea that is deeply unpopular with his potential colleagues.

While his campaign website has few policy proposals, vote smart classifies Trey as pro-life, against raising taxes, for the Keystone Pipeline, and against gun control.

Jim Mowrer: Iowa, 3rd Congressional District, Democrat

Mowrer is a 30-year-old Iraq war veteran who is running in his second race for Congress. He ran in 2014 but lost by more than 20 points to Steve King in a different district. Now he is running on democratic values and his record both in the military and as a Pentagon worker against a one-time incumbent, David Young.

He supports Social Security, veteran commitments, and sees raising the federal minimum wage as a top priority. Republicans far outnumber democrats in the district but the Cook Political Report ranks the race as a toss-up.

These candidates come from a variety of political and career backgrounds but are all hoping to continue to bring down the average age in the traditionally older legislative bodies. With only one millennial currently in office, if elected they would represent a greater generational representation.

Whether they would break outside traditional party politics is yet to be seen. Their campaigns don't appear to stray too far outside their party values. The voters are thus presented with new faces, but it is hard to say whether they can bring with them new ideas to break the current legislative deadlock.

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Photo credit: Nito / Shutterstock.com 


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