President Ronald Reagan once said, “The future does not belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” In that spirit, questsin has compiled a list of the brightest and bravest in the Grand Old Party under the age of 30.
While a majority of these young people come from political backgrounds — including a few who even hold elected office — they all possess a great influence in promoting Republican values that belies their ages.
Whether the influence of these 30 is demonstrated by becoming a viral sensation, by taking on the mantles of leadership, or by laying the groundwork to organize and propel other Republicans, questsin’s rankings take into account each candidate's accomplishments relative to their age and seek to highlight emerging voices alongside established ones.
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Each honoree has succeeded in enlarging the Republican tent by pushing the party’s ideals through legislation, swinging the conversation to the right, and building the base from the bottom up.
It is thanks to these young men and women that the Republican Party will endure for another new generation of profound minds.
1. Tomi Lahren — A newcomer to this annual list, Lahren, 24, shot to the top this year with her booming social media presence. The “Tomi” show on TheBlaze TV has taken Facebook — and the world — by storm. In fact, she proved so popular in 2016 that Donald Trump’s campaign tapped her to help boost the candidate’s social media profile. But it was her Final Thoughts segment aimed at Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest that really launched her into the stratosphere. On Lahren’s official Facebook page, which has nearly 4 million page likes, the Kaepernick post alone collected 135,000 comments, 718,000 likes, 1.5 million shares, and 66 million views.
2. Elliott Echols — As the director of the Republican Leadership Initiative in Washington, D.C., Echols mobilized the organization to train political field staffers and organizers for the 2016 election. The 26-year-old activist spent most of the election traveling to various battleground states to focus the Initiative’s efforts in what would become an upset victory in the presidential race. Prior to his current role with the Republican National Convention, Echols was the national youth director for the RNC, a position that was geared toward engaging both young voters and College Republican groups.
3. Hadley Heath Manning — A senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum, Manning, 28, is frequently invited to comment on issues like healthcare, entitlements, and economic policy for print, digital, radio, and television media. The Republican National Convention called her a “Rising Star” in 2015, and, this year, the Steamboat Institute named her its 2017 Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism.
4. Niraj Antani — In 2014, a year after graduating college, Antani won elected office to the represent the 42nd District in the Ohio House of Representatives. In 2016, the 25-year-old Republican incumbent won re-election over his Democratic challenger by 26 points. Prior to his budding legislative career, Antani served as the communications director for The Ohio State University College Republicans during the 2012 presidential election and as chair of Young Americans for Romney in Ohio.
5. Alison Howard — As the director of Alliance Relations at Alliance Defending Freedom, Howard, 28, is on the front lines in D.C. fighting to preserve religious freedom, the sanctity of marriage, and the lives of unborn children. Before joining ADF, she served as the communications director for the Concerned Women for America, the “largest public policy women’s organization” in the U.S.
6. Ryan Fournier — Currently enrolled at Campbell University and majoring in political science, Fournier, 21, gained widespread recognition as the founder and national chairman of Students for Trump, a social media phenomenon that helped engage millennials in support of the eventual president-elect.
7. Aundré Bumgardner — At the age of 20, Bumgardner was elected to represent the 41st District in the Connecticut House of Representatives in 2014, the youngest person ever to win such a bid in the state’s General Assembly. His campaign ran on themes of lowering taxes, improving transportation, pushing for townships to balance their budgets, and shoring up the economy overall. Bumgardner served on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding, Education, and Transportation committees while in office.
8. Erin Stewart — The mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, Erin Stewart was re-elected to a second term in 2015 by a convincing margin, championing a leadership that is bipartisan in a largely Democratic state. The 29-year-old’s executive career began in landmark fashion when she became the youngest mayor in the city’s history, the second woman to hold the office, and now the first to be re-elected in New Britain. Her name is already being whispered around the state in connection to upcoming elections for higher offices currently occupied by Democrats.
9. Saira Blair — She was the youngest person elected to either state or federal office in 2014, winning in the first election in which she was eligible to vote. Her West Virginia House of Delegates campaign focused on lowering her state's income tax to “below 6 percent,” coupled with creating a “business-friendly environment that will stimulate job growth.” Blair was re-elected to a second term while juggling the demands of college.
10. Alex Smith — She was elected national chair of the College Republican National Committee while completing her J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law. Smith is also a distinguished graduate of The Catholic University of America. She has appeared on Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN on programs such as “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Kelly File,” “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” and “The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart,” as well as in print and digital media in The Wall Street Journal and Politico.
11. Drew Christensen — Minnesota state Rep. Drew Christensen represents District 56A. He was elected to office in 2014 and ran on education and healthcare reform while pushing to trim the debt of the state government. Christensen, 23, serves on the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy, Education Finance, Education Innovation Policy, and Higher Education Policy and Finance Committees.
12. Anthony “AJ” Edgecomb — The youngest member of the Maine House of Representatives, he represents the 148th District. The 21-year-old currently serves on the Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and the Engrossed Bill committees while attending the University of Maine at Presque Isle where he’s majoring in physical education.
13. Kayla Kessinger — Kayla Kessinger, 24, represents the 32nd District of West Virginia and was first elected to office in 2014. She won re-election this year and serves on the Energy, Government Organization, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, and Small Business Entrepreneurship and Economic Development committees.
14. Chelsi H. Bennett — Another “rising star” in the GOP, 28-year-old Bennett is a successful lawyer, entrepreneur, political consultant, and pastor’s wife — whew. She has served as an elected official, a motivational speaker, and senior policy adviser, to name a few of her many accomplishments.
15. Steven Crowder — Steven Crowder, 29, is a talk show host who provides insightful nuance on the many issues coursing through the political arena today. He is tactful, entertaining, and, above all, right. Whether it be engaging Bernie Sanders supporters or lambasting the ludicrous claims of the Left, Crowder never shies away and always has a smile on his face. Both a first-rate commentator and comedian, he continues to bring in followers by the hundreds of thousands with his “Louder with Crowder” podcasts and videos.
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16. Ashe Schow — At 28, she is the senior political columnist for the New York Observer and a Watchdog.org reporter covering higher education. In 2016, the Independent Women’s Forum, Families Advocating for Campus Equality, and Stop Abusive and Violent Environments presented Schow with a “Champion of Justice” award in recognition of her hard-hitting reporting on gender politics and free speech issues. Previously, she made a name for herself as a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner and an editor and writer for The Heritage Foundation.
17. Elly Maye — She is a YouTube star who is most famous for her fun, informative video "Top 10 Reasons I’m Not a Democrat," which has been watched nearly a half-million times on her channel. Maye, 24, is a writer and video contributor to conservative heroes Dinesh D’Souza and Wayne Dupree. She is also a frequent guest on conservative radio and online streaming shows.
18. Jimmy Sengenberger— A prolific talk show host and commentator, Sengenberger, 26, has been penetrating the radio waves throughout Denver since 2008. A rising leader in Colorado politics, Sengenberger is also the president of the Liberty Day Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit that works with educators and communities to expand literacy and understanding of the Constitution.
19. Katie Pavlich — The 28-year-old journalist is an editor for Townhall.com and a former contributing editor to Townhall Magazine. Her first book, “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up,” made The New York Times Best Seller list for nonfiction. Her most recent book, “Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women,” hit bookshelves in 2014, and she was honored the same year as “Woman of the Year” by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. Pavlich provides her insight frequently on Fox News and never ceases to be on target.
20. Adi Sathi — This 26-year-old Michigander is the vice chair of coalitions within his state’s GOP, one of the youngest members of the convention’s leadership. In addition, Sathi is an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies legislative fellow in the office of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Senate president pro tempore and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
21. Kierstin Koppel — She is the founder and president of Galt Solutions, a boutique political consulting company in Miami, Florida. Prior to starting her firm, Koppel, 27, worked as the national youth director for the presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Koppel is also involved with Generation Opportunity.
22. “Millennial” Millie Weaver — The 25-year-old former model has made a name for herself as a political activist, reporter, and satirist. Weaver is most known for her contributions to Infowars.com and the videos on her YouTube channel, which has attracted more than 50,000 subscribers since she created it a little more than a year ago.
23. Sterling Beard — The Dartmouth graduate is currently the editor-in-chief at Campus Reform, a conservative spotlight on the news and events happening at America’s universities. Beard, 27, has recently earned such accolades as “rising star in journalism” by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for his recent work with the Heritage Foundation in 2015.
24. Kristin Tate — The 25-year-old political columnist appears frequently on TV programs across the political spectrum: Fox News, Fox Business Network, PBS, CNN, and questsin TV. Tate’s writing has been featured in the Washington Examiner, National Review, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Daily Caller. Her new book, “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You for a Ride — and What You Can Do About It,” will be released in paperback this spring, and copies will surely continue to fly off the shelves.
25. Grant Strobl — Ascending to national chairman of Young Americans for Freedom, Strobl has been heavily involved with conservative campus activism for more than five years, beginning in high school. The 21-year-old University of Michigan student has written for the YAF’s The New Guard newsletter, Red Alert Politics, The Detroit News, and Fox News’ Copy That newsletter.
26. Justin Haskins — At 29, Haskins is the executive editor at the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank. Also, he recently created the New Revere Daily Press, a news start-up that primarily collects but also produces conservative and libertarian content and commentary, while providing nuance as well.
27. Gus Portela — The 27-year-old is the national executive director for the College Republican National Committee. He worked on Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign in 2012. He is one of the youngest influential Hispanic Republicans to come to the forefront of GOP activism in recent history, and will continue to help expand the big tent of the party.
28.Hope Hicks — This 28-year-old is a relative newcomer to politics, and her career in it has been both surprising and serendipitous. Hicks, a public relations wunderkind, was discovered by Donald Trump while doing some work with Ivanka Trump's fashion line. When the eventual president-elect began his presidential campaign, Trump immediately tasked Hicks with the job of press secretary, seemingly on the fly. Hicks grew in the role and then became the spokeswoman for Trump's transition team. After the inauguration, Hicks will ascend to the role of White House director of strategic communications in the Trump administration.
29. Matt Hanrahan — As the campaign director for Dan Carter, the Republican challenger to longtime incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut, 21-year-old Hanrahan ran a campaign that had a higher turnout among Republican voters in more than four election cycles. Hanrahan was the former chairman of the College Republicans at The Catholic University of America and the vice-chairman of D.C. Federation of College Republicans.
30. Quaterrius “Quay” Manuel — This Georgia teen became an overnight YouTube sensation when footage captured him engaging in a public debate with a Black Lives Matter supporter who was protesting Donald Trump. The YouTube video accrued millions of views across social media — and several death threats directed at him in response to his arguments. Manuel, 16, who proclaims to be a “conservative Christian Republican” on Twitter, has amassed nearly 25,000 followers on the social media platform since the video went viral. The undeterred teenager hopes to run for public office in the future.
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