Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 15, 2014

West Virginia teen beats state delegate in GOP primary

By Reid Wilson
The Washington Post

— Saira Blair will graduate from a West Virginia high school later this month. She posts photos of her smoothie habit on Instagram, volunteers at the Martinsburg veterans hospital and helps raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. She will not be eligible to vote until July.

But on Tuesday, she beat a sitting state delegate who was seeking a third term in office.

With all 13 precincts in her Martinsburg area district reporting, Blair beat state Del. Larry Kump, a Republican, with 872 votes to his 728.

Blair campaigned on an antiabortion, pro-Second Amendment platform, offering her cellphone number to constituents and pledging not to go negative. She spent about $4,800 on her campaign, state finance records show. (Kump, a former lobbyist, only spent $1,800 on his re-election bid.)

"I think I'm fully capable of doing the job, and I don't think it's rocket science by any means — not if you just listen to the people," Blair told the Martinsburg Herald-Mail this week.

She's no stranger to politics, either: Blair's father, Craig, is a West Virginia state senator. And despite being ineligible to vote for herself in the primary, she will be 18 in two months, meaning she'll be old enough to vote in November, and to serve when the legislature reconvenes next year.

Blair will face Democratic nominee Layne Diehl in November, and she's the favorite: In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney took nearly two-thirds of the vote in her district, according to a breakdown by the liberal blog DailyKos.

If she wins, Blair will balance her new legislative duties with another set of responsibilities: She will begin college this fall at West Virginia University.

Safe to guess she will be the only member of the freshman class with a vote in the legislature.