West Virginia voters elect a state lawmaker not even old enough to order a drink at the bar

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By now you’ve probably seen the news circulating about the impressive young blonde in West Virginia who just became the nation’s youngest lawmaker. Saira Blair is 18-years old and a freshman at West Virginia University studying economics.

According to news reports, Blair decided to seek state office representing her small district of some 4,000 voters because finding a job is just too gosh darn hard in her state. Blair, a staunch Republican, ousted a two-term sitting incumbent during the primary election when she was just 17. The poor dear couldn’t even vote for herself, so she took to social media to get her of-age friends to vote on her behalf.

What’s most troubling about all of this is not that a teen got herself elected to a state delegation. It’s not that her age is necessarily a problem. What’s troubling is that her dad, Craig Blair, is a state Senator and worked as her campaign manager.

There’s a lot to brag about in this story and a lot of kudos to be handed to this baby-faced little girl – yeah, I said it, little girl. She didn’t just run on a whim. It was well laid out and she developed a plan early on. She took extra classes during her early years of high school so that she could have a light load while she tended to the burdens of campaigning her senior year. She volunteered at a local hospital. She saved her own money, more than $4,000 for her campaign. She launched a campaign complete with Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. For all intents and purposes, she was probably better at that than the old folks.

But, let’s get back to that daddy campaign manager thing. Should an 18-year old even be allowed to sit in elected office? In Florida, you have to be at least 21 to serve in the House of Representatives. At least in Florida you have to be a couple years removed from high school and able to have a beer to vote on state laws. What’s this girl going to know?

She’ll know whatever her daddy tells her, that’s what. She got elected because she used her own hard-earned cash to outspend her primary opponent 4-1. She got elected because people knew her daddy’s name. She got elected because she posted pictures of her shooting guns and talked about saving unborn babies and lowering taxes in a district that bleeds red. Maybe, just maybe, she even won because a few people thought, awe, aren’t you sweet.

In one photo, Blair is standing in front of a billboard with her picture on it. It looks like any other campaign billboard or mailer. It has all the same patriotic stars and colors and well-placed exclamation points. It even has the token jargon you’d see on any campaign swag – right down to and including the bullet point, experience.

Really? What experience does she bring to the table? How to text without looking? How to sneak down the hall without making the floorboards creek? How to make a headband out of your own hair?! Does she know what a quorum is? Does she understand a filibuster or the difference between a simple or supermajority? Does she know what a millage rate is or how property taxes work? Maybe she does. Maybe she knows all those things and then some and I’m just a big meanie. Or maybe she’s 18 freaking years old and should be running for class president not state delegation.

For once, I am happy to report a WTF moment that is NOT in Florida. Good job West Virginia, you now have a representative who will fight for smoothies and selfies!

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.