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Two 25-Year-Olds Could Be Elected to Congress, a Historical Rarity

Generation Z has been pushing for more political power since its first members came of age in 2015. This year, she’ll get her first chance to enter the halls of Congress — and now that the dust has settled after a long primaries, two candidates are poised to take advantage.

Karoline Leavitt won the Republican primary on Tuesday in New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, less than a month after she turned 25, the constitutional minimum age to serve in the House. She is an underdog in the general election, against Democratic incumbent Representative Chris Pappas. But the district is about evenly split between the parties and the race is competitive.

Even if Ms. Leavitt loses in November, the next Congress is almost guaranteed to include a Gen Z member: Maxwell Alejandro Frost, also 25, who won the Democratic primary last month to an open House seat in Florida’s solidly blue 10th congressional district.

One of them, if elected, would be the youngest sitting member of Congress. If both are chosen, the award will go to Ms. Leavitt, who is about seven months younger.

But neither would be the youngest person ever elected to Congress.

That record, which will probably never be broken, belongs to William CC Claiborne, who was 22 when he was elected to the House from Tennessee in 1797, according to Congressional records. (There is some disagreement in other sources as to his exact age, but no dispute that he was under 25.) The age requirement was no different then: the Constitution said House members had to be at least 25, and Mr Claiborne was ‘t. But the house chose to have mr. to leave Claiborne anyway.

A handful of 24-year-olds were also in the 1800s, according to Congressional data, as were some people who turned 25 less than a month before they were sworn in.

In modern times, however, it is rare for a 25-year-old to be elected to the House.

Representative Madison Cawthorn, Republican from North Carolina, managed it in 2020; if elected this year, Mrs. Leavitt would be less than a month younger than Mr. Cawthorn when he was elected. Before Mr. Cawthorn, Thomas Downey, the last 25-year-old to serve in the House, was a New York Democrat elected in 1974.

Generation Z has a strong Democrat leaning, but its members are not an ideological monolith, as evidenced by the political leanings of Ms. Leavitt and Mr. Frost.

mr. Frost is a progressive Democrat who supports Medicare for all, abortion rights, and tougher gun laws. “I come from a generation that has undergone more mass shooting than fire drills,” he told The New York Times in an interview after his first win, adding that he believed his generation had “a natural sense of seeing the world through the eyes of the most vulnerable.”

Ms. Leavitt, whose campaign did not respond to an interview request, is a right-wing Republican who worked as a press officer for former President Donald J. Trump. She supports a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against illegal immigration and is against abortion and gun control.