Youngest Black Legislator In America Won on a Platform of ‘God, Guns, and Babies’

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by Evie Fordham

 

The West Virginia House of Delegates convened Wednesday with a record-setter in its midst – freshman Del. Caleb L. Hanna, who became the nation’s youngest black legislator following his election at age 19 in November 2018.

“I always knew that I was not satisfied with the leadership I was getting within my own house district,” Hanna told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview. “I told myself if I ever had my opportunity to take that, I would give it my shot.”

At first, his small Republican campaign was designed to push Democratic incumbent Dana Lynch to be “more proactive in the legislature,” Hanna told TheDCNF. But things shifted when Hanna realized he could win the Republican primary — even if he was running his campaign from his dorm room at West Virginia State University, where he studies economics.

Leading up to the general election, Hanna faced doubts about his age and experience, a shoestring budget and one instance of racist flyers he reported to law enforcement. But Hanna defeated Lynch by roughly 25 points in West Virginia’s House of Delegates District 44 in November, with results reported as 60.3 to 35.7, according to Ballotpedia.

Making It To Charleston

Hanna is in the state capital Charleston as a member of the majority party in the House of Delegates. He said he’s ready to get to work on the economic issues that motivated West Virginia voters in 2018 and stand for his principles, which he sums up as “God, guns and babies.”

Posted by Delegate Caleb L. Hanna on Friday, January 4, 2019

Gun rights is one of the first issues Hanna wants to dive into as a legislator by co-sponsoring a campus carry bill. It’s an issue that has attracted the attention of party leadership in the House of Delegates, reported West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

“The Constitution clearly lays out our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, not just in our homes but also in our places of work and our places of study,” Hanna told TheDCNF. “I live in my college dorm while I’m at the legislature. … I consider that to be my home. I feel like I should have the right to protect myself in my home.”

Help Along The Way

Learning the ropes of being a lawmaker hasn’t been easy, but Hanna said his colleagues, including those in leadership, are always ready to answer his questions.

“Not far from my office is Del. Ben Queen, who is only 23. He’s served a term here already, and he’s also a young member, so he kind of was in the same shoes as me. He was a great inspiration for me to learn from,” Hanna said.

Queen said he first met Hanna when the younger man was in high school. They were both fired up over the success of former West Virginia Del. Saira Blair, who upset a Republican incumbent in the primaries and became the youngest lawmaker in the U.S. at age 18 in 2014.

Hanna is eager to listen to others and learn about issues, which are qualities that make a young lawmaker successful, Queen told TheDCNF.

“Putting your name on the ballot is intimidating enough, let alone going through with a campaign,” Queen said of Hanna. “It’s really nice to have a seat at the table. I think that’s what young people are looking for here in West Virginia.”

Hanna’s district is rural and spread out. He recalls driving for hours to cover enough ground while door-knocking. At least 70 percent of voters in each of the four counties in Hanna’s district voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, according to Politico.

“For them to elect a young African-American goes to show that I don’t think racial discrimination in Trump supporters is actually there,” he said.

Generation Z Enters The Political Arena

Hanna traces his interest in running for office to former President Barack Obama.

“It had nothing to do with policies,” Hanna told TheDCNF. “I was in third grade at the time, but I knew that that was something new. That wasn’t something normal, to have an African-American hold the highest office in the United States. I kind of thought to myself in that moment, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ That’s when I started following politics.”

Hanna is in the vanguard of Generation Z politicians. He chuckled at a comparison between himself and Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Millennial who became the youngest woman to be elected to Congress at 29. Before Ocasio-Cortez, Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik held the record for youngest woman elected to Congress.

“I’m not a huge fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s policies, the way that she goes about things, but I respect that she is a young person who set out to make a difference. I think you’re starting to see that throughout the country,” Hanna told TheDCNF. “We realize we have to stand up as Americans to do what’s best. That’s one thing I ran on in my campaign. We may be Republicans, and we may be Democrats, but we’re all West Virginians, so we all have to come together.”

Hanna is wary of making a career out of politics, however. He envisions starting a family and doesn’t think that’s something he wants to do in the public eye.

“I didn’t come from a political family,” he told TheDCNF. “I’m living it one thing at a time.”

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Evie Fordham is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.
Photo “Caleb Hanna Swearing-In” by Caleb Hanna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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15 Thoughts to “Youngest Black Legislator In America Won on a Platform of ‘God, Guns, and Babies’”

  1. Janet Brown

    Byrd organiozed the local chapter of the KKK he was not the Grand Wizard

  2. Jack

    Proud of your stance and accomplishment. If you ever want to govern in a bigger capacity with the same motto and principles come to NY. I’d vote for you just because you display intelligence!

  3. Culton

    This is one thing I can’t to help myself why most of the blacks in the USA wants to be a democrat when the was the party of Slavery and the foamed the KKK Byrd was a grand Marshall of the KKK democrat can somebody ex-spline this to me place

    1. Dorothy Smith

      Congratulations on your win!!!
      Stick with your beliefs, stay true
      to GOD, guns and babies!!!

  4. A young black man with common since. Good luck to you my boy.

  5. Ned

    Again the MOuntaineers have proven that they will follow anyone who preys on their emotions rather than facts like income, unemployment, education. The party of Guns God and babies has put them where they are now and it appears forever.

    1. David Dench

      Another idiot libturd heard from.STFU ned

    2. ConanTheRepublican

      Suck on it deeply.

    3. Kerry

      Not sure what you mean by this incoherent rant because it’s a historical fact that the Democrats are the party of slavery and the KKK and Jim Crowe. It was Republican president Lincoln and a Republican Congress who passed the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments as well as created the Emancipation Proclamation. And PS there was no big switch

  6. Grace sandagato Gainesville tx,

    Congratulations and I wish you the best of luck I think what I just read about you was a true fact.peoole today forget we have a right to bear arms to protect our homes .good luck and God bless you.may you prove that intelligence is what this country is about.g

  7. Lee

    Wishing you the best, young man. Guns, God and Babies is perfect. Don’t let the old guard put you down. Stand tall for the right things and we stand with you.

  8. MICHAEL A CROGNALE

    Outstanding! Hope he keeps it up.

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