Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Inside a Gen Z campaign to shake up Congress

By 37ci3 May2,2024

In an election year defined in part by Gen Z’s exhaustion from politics, Joe Vogel is energized by it.

At age 27, he became the youngest representative from Maryland in Democratic history. He won the legislative seat, replacing a 16-year incumbent who is retiring in 2022. now, There is Vogel his eyes fixed on Capitol Hill is campaigning Maryland to fill open 6th Congressional District. Democratic Republican David Trone currently holds the seat, however this year he is running for the Senate.

The average age of lawmakers in the House of Representatives is 57.9, and Baby Boomers still represent the largest share (45%) in the House. according to generation Pew Research.

Currently, Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost He is the only Gen Z member of Congress representing a district in Central Florida.

“I’m glad we have someone from our generation speaking for us, but we need more people to join them,” Vogel said.

After winning endorsements from With Sen. Cory Booker, the Maryland State Education Association and more, Vogel’s next hurdle will be the May 14 primary in a competitive district for the Democratic nomination in Maryland.

It’s crowded 16-candidate Vogeli is running on the Democratic side against people like Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, Montgomery County Councilwoman Laurie-Anne Sayles and former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel at a Democratic candidate forum in Garrett County, Md.NBC News

Some of Vogel’s opponents and critics often comment on his age and lack of career experience. A local article He referred to Vogel, who looked “like a teenager” on the Maryland home floor.

“I don’t think I look that young, but I, you know, I think the reality is that these kinds of comments are really unnecessary,” Vogel said.

“We favored people much older than me, didn’t we?” he continued.We outnumber people much older than me. The reality is that people can say whatever they want, you know, what I look like or how old or young I am. I want people to pay attention to the issues we are fighting for.”

Vogel says her unique background as a Gen Z immigrant from Uruguay, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and of Jewish faith would provide a unique perspective for the House if she were to run for Congress.

“The reality is that we’re challenging the status quo idea that you have to wait your turn. It’s the idea of ​​’politics as usual’ that got us here in the first place, isn’t it?’ he said.

Vogel’s campaign has listed gun violence, mental health, the climate crisis and addressing the fentanyl epidemic as top priorities.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on the floor of the State House in Annapolis, Md.NBC News

Since being elected to the Maryland State House, Vogel has introduced legislation that would allow mental health professionals working in Maryland public schools to receive up to $30,000 in student debt relief. He also sponsored a bill to allow students to receive telehealth appointments during school hours and proposed the creation of a mental health advisory committee.

But nevertheless Vogel is running for Congress with more than $600,000 in campaign cash, according to the FEC. one of the millions of borrowers paying off student loan debt. He ties the two together because, like many who run for Congress, he has no personal money to fall back on to fund his campaign.

“I’m sitting on $40,000 in student loan debt. I don’t have the money to lend myself $1 million or $2 million to run a campaign,” Vogel added: “I want someone in Congress who understands what it’s like to be young in today’s economy and who understands what student debt is.”

Vogel’s apartment is a clear statement of the cost of running a congressional campaign at age 27.

Her one-bedroom apartment in a building above a campaign headquarters in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is modest. Blank white walls, plastic trash cans and a flimsy futon from Target fill the space, which looks like most 20-something dorms or first apartments.

“I think it’s a reflection of how I spend my time. I spend my time working, you know, getting things done in the Legislature,” Vogel said.

Although the 2022 midterm elections were on display high turnout of young votersthere is a certain level of political exhaustion also settled.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel, Gaithersburg, Md., in 2022. Bill O’Leary / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

In a recent national NBC News poll, voters were asked to gauge their interest in the 2024 election On a scale of 1-10, only 27% of voters aged 18-29 answered “9” or “10”, compared to 65% of all respondents.

Vogel’s message to young voters is not to be complacent.

“Give us a chance to prove that government can still work. Help us turn this page and elect a new generation of leaders focused on solving these challenges,” said Vogel. “Help us elect someone who understands from personal experience and feels the urgency to address these issues.”

“We have real challenges ahead of us and we can’t just check,he continued.

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By 37ci3

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