NewsLocal NewsCuyahoga County


Millennials and minorities are running for elected office at historic rates

Posted at 10:32 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 05:18:15-05

Teenagers are typically playing sports, preparing for college, or working part time jobs. In Kansas, they're running for Governor -- six of them -- the youngest is just 16 years old.

A record number of millennials are running for public office this year. But it doesn't stop there - women, people of color, Muslims, and members of the LGBT community are all signing up to get their names on the ballot in 2018.

"I was appointed when I was 27 years old and I just won re-election at 29," said Cleveland City Councilman, Kerry McCormack.

McCormack is a gay man and a millennial. He looks a lot like many of the faces running for office across the country this year.

"I think it is really important that people from all different backgrounds and diversity run for office so that those voices are at the table when decisions are being made," he said.

According to the organization Run for Something, 15,000 millennials signed up to get on the ballot in 2017, and the number of women running for Congress this year is up nearly 350% from 2016.

"This awareness of what's going on in the community is a beautiful thing, and getting more and more people to get active, again whether it's from the school board, all the way up, is really important," said McCormack.

"For them to sort of stake out a claim and say they want to get involved in politics, is a pretty remarkable phenomenon," said Dr. Ed Horowitz.

Horowitz is a politics and media research professor at Cleveland State University. Like the tea party movement was a response to the Obama presidency, Horowitz says an insurgence of millennials and minorities will be the response to the Trump presidency.

"They want to show that they can do more than just give a thumbs up and find a hashtag on social media. So I think this is a great way for them to get involved and we'll see if it really pans out in the next election cycle in November," he said.

It's a message McCormack has been giving to his fellow millennials for years.

"They would say, 'how do I get involved, I want to get involved,' and I would say, 'run for office,' and I would be laughed off time and time and time again and now, when I respond that way, fewer people laugh at me," he said.

According to the group Emily's List, which recruits women to run for office, since the 2016 election, more than 30,000 women have reached out with interest in running for office. That number was less than 1,000 during the 2016 election cycle.