At 30 years old, the Republican candidate for New York’s 21st district, Elise Stefanik, will break a 40-year record if elected to the House of Representatives.
On October 27, a Sienna College poll showed Stefanik leading her Democratic rival Aaron Woolf by 18 points.
Stefanik knows she is not a typical candidate, but sees this as an advantage.
“We need new, fresh candidates. We need candidates who are able to reach out to young voters, women voters. I don’t look like a normal congressional candidate,” she told Business Insider.
As a millennial herself, she is open minded and acknowledges the benefits of bipartisan politics.
“Part of the reason I’m running is I think there’s an opportunity to work more effectively on a bipartisan basis on the big issues,” she told CBS.
1. If She Wins, She’ll Be the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress
In 1973, Elizabeth Holtzman was 31 when she became the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. So if Stefanik wins, she will break the record that’s been held for 40 years.
At campaign events, Stefanik has seen an influx of girls coming out in support, which inspires her.
“What’s cool is that at our events, oftentimes parents are now bringing their young girls. So there are a lot of young girls who now have ‘Elise for Congress’ stickers, who come to the events, who normally wouldn’t be a part of political rallies. But their parents are making sure they know that they too can run for office someday,” she told CBS.
2. She Went to Harvard on a Partial Academic Scholarship
In 2006, she graduated Harvard University cum laude and was honored with the Women’s Leadership Award.
On campus, she was on the Student Advisory Committee of Harvard’s Institute of Politics, the largest political undergraduate organization.
Interestingly enough, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was in her year at school. One day, she saw him trying to recruit people to come to California to develop the novel concept, that, at the time, was called Facemash.
“I remember looking and saying, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. That’s an interesting project.’ And I went on to my class,” she told Business Insider.
Being a Harvard student at the time of its inception, Stefanik was one of the first people to use Facebook. The candidate has even employed the social media platform as part of her campaign.
“One of my ideas is that we post every vote on Facebook and on social media so that voters have an opportunity to hold their elected official accountable,” she explained to CBS.
3. She Started Her Political Career in 6th Grade
She attended Albany Academy for Girls, and ran for secretary of student council in sixth grade, where she promised she would add a snack machine to the school.
As coincidence would have it, the eighth grader she worked with to install the machine, Melissa DeRosa, went on to become New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s communications director
4. She Worked for George W. Bush
Right before her college graduation, she was hired as a staff assistant in the White House under President George W. Bush. She as part of his Domestic Policy Council Staff and also worked in the Chief of Staff’s office.
Karl Zinsmeister, then the incoming head of the president’s domestic policy council, hired her before she even turned 22.
“He took a real risk and hired me, which was not the typical thing to do right out of college. I learned a lot very, very quickly,” she told Business Insider.
After that role ended in 2009, she served as the policy director for the Republican National Committee, and part of her job entailed helping Paul Ryan prep for his vice presidential debate against Joe Biden.
5. She Works for Her Family & Has a Serious Boyfriend
Over a year ago, Stefanik moved back to her family’s seasonal home in Essex County.
The district she hopes to represent spans from Saratoga Springs in the south to Watertown in the west and the Canadian border in the north. As far as her personal life goes, Post Star said, “She doesn’t talk much about her personal life, other than to say she has a strong group of friends and a ‘serious’ boyfriend.”
Her day job is working for her family’s company, Premium Plywood Products, Inc., that was founded in Upstate New York over 20 years ago.
The site Elise for Congress describes the business as “one of the largest wholesale distributors of hardwood plywoods and specialty wood products in Upstate New York.”