Young, cute, Harvard-educated, Republican? Elise Stefanik could be the future.

Elise Stefanik

The youngest person ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives happened back in 1973, when Elizabeth Holtzman won at age 31. Tomorrow, Elise Stefanik should win at age 30, breaking a forty-year old record in the process. In addition to being young, she’s:

  • Cute
  • Republican
  • Harvard-educated
  • Knows Washington fairly well

Are we looking at the future of the GOP right here?

Others are arguing this, although it might be best to temper enthusiasm. First of all, if she wins — and she likely will, because she has a double-digit lead — she’d need to establish herself as a House member first, and within New York State, she wouldn’t really have a natural “next step” politically. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand will likely be the Senators for a while, and while a Congress-to-Governor jump might be a bit odd, Andrew Cuomo is probably hanging around for a while too (give or take 2016/2020).

Another potential problem for Stefanik is her view on women’s issues, as noted here via Washington Post:

All these question marks have made it hard for some locals to get quite as excited about Stefanik as those helping her win. Republican Teresa Sayward represented the 113th district of New York’s General Assembly — which is tucked inside the 21st congressional seat — for a decade. She hasn’t decided who to vote for yet. “I have mixed emotions,” she says. “It’s the most difficult race I’ve ever had to cast a vote in.” “The biggest disappointment for me was Elise Stefanik’s view of women’s issues,” Sayward added. “She didn’t come out and say she was against gay marriage, but she said it was a state-by-state issue.”

I’ve also argued Mia Love (black female Republican out of Utah) might be the future, although her election is looking somewhat tight right now. Susana Martinez, the Republican Hispanic Governor of New Mexico, is another candidate for this overall title.

The basic idea here is that eventually, the Republican party needs to start appealing to the new construction of America — that is, more Hispanics/minorities, and women with a greater voice than ever before. The Republicans will do very well in the 2014 midterms, and people will breathlessly analyze their future for weeks as a result. The sheer fact of the matter is, the non-Presidential party is almost always going to do well in midterms, but the Electoral College picture isn’t necessarily as rosy for the GOP. (That could change, of course, over time.)

Back to Elise Stefanik for a second. She co-wrote a paper at Harvard with Jeanne Shaheen — now in politics herself — and has worked in various Republican contexts for a couple of years. That could hurt her in a bigger, higher-profile election — she could be viewed as the dreaded “DC Insider” (she has ties to Paul Ryan’s camp, apparently) — but the youth angle might help her too:

One relevant thing, though, is that if you combine Stefanik, Love, and other candidates tomorrow, it could be a fairly historical night for GOP diversity — and that could be helpful for them looking towards 2016 and beyond:

Personally, I think any politician as “the future” is a tough sell. As the Washington Post profile notes (first link in this blog), a lot of Stefanik’s positions ultimately sound like buzzwords — and there’s a big difference between “stumping well” and “getting anything done.” (It’s like the difference between “productive” and “busy” in political terms.) Also, you absolutely never know with politicians who’s going to rise and who’s going to fall. There are so many factors. At this point in 2006, Barack Obama was (at best) a fringe guy for 2008. He’s now been President close to seven years. Right now, the big GOP focus is probably Rand Paul for ’16 — but that could change 10 million times over. It probably will. Becoming a huge deal in politics has so much to do with luck/serendipity. If it was more logical, more people would be discussing Brian Sandoval. (That was a joke.)

doubt we’re seeing the future’s first step tomorrow night, but if we are — take note of where you were at the very least.


Ted Bauer


  1. Wasn’t Congressman Aaron Schock 28 when he was first elected to the house of representaties

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