The average age of a member of Congress is 58. That makes Elise Stefanik, the 30-year-old from the 21st district of New York, stick out like a flashing neon light. Stefanik is the youngest representative ever elected to serve on Capitol Hill, and she just happens to be a bold conservative.
Stefanik’s conservative credentials are bona fide. She was brought up in a small business family, is staunchly pro-life and has pledged to help replace Obamacare with common sense proposals. These qualities, along with an upbeat attitude, helped her to achieve incredible success in the Empire State’s North Country.
Before throwing her own hat in the political ring, Stefanik, a Harvard graduate, worked in the George W. Bush White House and helped oversee Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) vice presidential debate prep in 2012. With so much political experience, it was perhaps inevitable that she would pursue a Washington career of her own.
Despite being only 29 years old at the time, Stefanik decided to run for office in upstate New York in 2013, daring to challenge incumbent Democrat Bill Owens, who surprisingly dropped out of the race. Stefanik traveled over 100,000 miles in her truck to meet with constituents, according to her ad-maker, Russ Schriefer. All those hours on the road paid off. She first defeated her Republican primary opponent Matt Doheny by 22 points, then her Democratic opponent Aaron Woolf, also by double digits. Her victories came thanks to her youthful messages and energy. She’s now looking forward to bringing that same attitude to Congress.
In a sit-down interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, Stefanik was all smiles and positivity as she reflected on her victory and looked toward her political career:
"I think that's where being young is a strength, because I bring, I hope, a sunny side of optimism to Congress, and a willingness to work with people. I hope I'm not frustrated after the next two years," she said, laughing.
At a time when the stuffy halls of Congress seem to be filled with people who have long overstayed their welcome (looking at you, Charlie Rangel and John McCain) it’s encouraging to see Stefanik’s youthful energy, optimism, willingness to compromise, and excitement to go to work. Washington, DC is about to get a breath of fresh air from a fresh face!