More Millennials Are Getting Involved in Politics - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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More Millennials Are Getting Involved in Politics

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    More Millennials Are Getting Involved in Politics

    Millennials are making their mark when it comes to running for office, and they have power when it comes to electing candidates. (Published Thursday, March 15, 2018)

    Millennials are making their mark when it comes to running for office, and they have power when it comes to electing candidates.

    In Texas alone, the number of registered voters under the age of 35 is about 4.3 million. That is 29 percent of registered voters right now. The Pew Research Center reports that millennials will likely be the largest voting block in 2020.

    State Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, was first elected to office at age 27 and says when he arrived at the Texas Legislature, he recalls members looking at his class and remarking how young they were.

    "Now I find that I'm that one of those guys who sees the incoming members, and thinks, 'Oh, wow, this is a really young class of freshman,'" Gooden said.

    In 2015, according to the Texas Tribune, there were 11 members of the Texas Legislature under 35. In 2017, that number stayed about the same.

    But, at the ripe old age of 35, Gooden is now looking to his next office. He is running for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who is retiring.

    There is evidence millennials are getting more involved in the process now that they're all over 18.

    According to the Pew Research Center, 34 million millennials reported casting ballots, up from 18.4 million in 2008.

    2008 is a year that sticks out to Dallas ISD board member Miguel Solis.

    "When you look at the election of Barack Obama, that really was the beginning of the watershed moment, where it ushered in the millennial generation into being active in their democracy. I mean, that is how I got my start, quite honestly," Solis said.

    Solis worked in field operations for Obama, before getting elected to the school board. Now 31 years old, he is one of two millennials who sits on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, along with Jaime Resendez.

    Solis is also the president of the Latino Center for Leadership and Development, an organization that gets young people involved in the political process.

    "Not only is there a rise in people running, there is a rise in people that are just basically engaged in their community," he added.

    And there are groups popping up like Run for Something, entirely dedicated to putting millennial Democrats in office.

    Political science professor Cal Jillson expects to see the number of young people involved go up, especially in this election cycle

    "I think we are seeing younger candidates. We are seeing a really big rise in female candidates. Any demographic group that feels nervous to outraged about President Trump is entering not just the electorate, but running for office," Jillson said.

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    On the Republican side, they're seeing an uptick in young candidates as well.

    A communications director for the Young Republican National Federation says more millennials are getting involved because of the excitement of a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress.

    The 2018 election is poised to tell us a lot about the next few years in politics, and may also give us a better sense of the success of young candidates.

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