Some voters in Arkansas’s 1st Congressional District will believe Princella Smith is just too young to be a congresswoman. Doing business on Capital Hill requires wisdom and life experience; at 26-years-old, Smith is a baby. Of course, age was not an issue for Edward Rutledge, who at 26 signed the Declaration of Independence. Nor was age an issue for Amelia Earhart, who at 25 set an altitude record for female aviators.
Besides, according to Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution the only qualifications required to serve in the House of Representatives are that a person “have attained the age of 25 years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.” Princella Smith certainly passes constitutional muster. It is, however, her vast experience that makes her not only more than qualified, but perhaps the best choice to represent the people of the 1st District.
Princella Smith has clerked at the U.S. Department of Labor, was e-campaign director for then Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele’s Senate campaign, national spokesperson for “American Solutions,” the issues advocacy group begun by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; she was even a prime-time speaker at the Republican National Convention in New York.
However, the road to Washington is both long and is scattered with more obstacles than just age.
Princella is a conservative Republican running for office in a district that hasn’t elected a Republican since 1872, which, no doubt, explains why the district is filled with crumbling schools, high unemployment, and deep-seated racial tensions. Smith is also black and the district she seeks to represent resides in a Southern state that has never elected a black person to a congressional or state-wide office.
The good news is that Arkansas is still a place where values matter. What Princella has going for her is that while she may not share party affiliation with many of the voters of the 1st, she shares their values; she is one of them.