You know what they say about kids these days. They’re lazy, self-centered, shallow, and they never even bother showing up to vote. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to the rule. If you had been looking around in upstate New York over the last few years, you would find one in the person of Colin Schmitt. I got to know Colin last year during the 2010 campaign where he was actively involved in a number of races, including the congressional race I was organizing. But far from being just another youth volunteer, Colin was already becoming a bit of a political rising star in his own right while still in college. And now he’s launching his own bid for office at an age when many students are still deciding on which picture to use for their Facebook profile.
Not yet old enough to legally drink, Colin Schmitt is nonetheless old enough to take on one of the longest-tenured politicians in the region.
And he’s giving himself a running head start.
Schmitt, who will turn 21 in June, filed on March 14 with the state Board of Elections to run against Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, a fellow Republican. So far, he is the only challenger for the 96th District seat, though the primary is more than a year away, and the state legislative district lines have yet to be redrawn.
The candidate has already launched his campaign web site, which you can check out here.
Lest you think this was just some whim of a young man to grab headlines, it’s not. Colin caught the attention of the media quite a while back when he became one of the youngest legislative aides in the history of New York at the age of 14, working for Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt. (Annie is a great lady and a tireless public servant, working a few districts to the Southeast of me, and was very supportive in our efforts to unseat Maurice Hinchey last year.)
Colin didn’t stop there, though. He formed his own PAC – New Dawn – before he was twenty, and has already been very effective in hosting political events, fundraising and promoting responsibility in government. He is involved with the Young Repubicans movement and also launched a widely publicized effort to put an end to the practice of career politicians in New York using a loophole in state law to “double dip” and take pensions while still working full time salary positions. (See more about his “Stop the NY Double Dip” efforts in the NY Daily News.)
I contacted Colin for this piece and asked if he would care to comment for Hot Air regarding his reasons for jumping into this primary battle.
“New York is in need of serious conservative Republican leadership. Our current representatives have failed in their duties. I will work everyday to spread a message of reform, reigning in property taxes, creating jobs, and protecting uniquely American rights like the second amendment. As a next generation leader it is imperative to bring all New Yorkers together in a coalition to make the Empire State a place where all citizens can live, work, and prosper.”
His prospective opponent next year, while also a Republican, is one of the double dippers mentioned above. This was no doubt one factor influencing his decision to run. Of course, as the linked article notes, there is still a big question mark over the race. The Empire State is in the midst of a contentious redistricting battle following the last census, and his current assembly district may not even exist in its present form by the time the primary rolls around. Everyone here is dealing with similar questions, as I’ve had more people than I can count ask me what’s going on with our congressional district and if we’ll be making another run. I still have no idea.
In any event, it’s rare to find young people getting started so early, sticking with it, and being so engaged in the process. We should encourage them when we find them and highlight their efforts as an inspiration to other young conservatives who may be wondering how they can take a more active role.