There is a recent buzz in the political landscape of California’s 45th District as a formidable contender has emerged on the Democratic front. Cheyenne Hunt, a 26-year-old candidate has grabbed the limelight, vying to secure the Democratic nomination on March 5. As a California native and former Senate aide, Hunt is confidently navigating a crowded primary field and if she accomplishes her goal, she will be competing against incumbent Republican Michelle Steel, a seasoned politician who won by a narrow margin of 5% in her last election. 

Beyond her personal political ascent, Hunt is aiming for a historic endeavor. Her triumph will shatter records as she will be the youngest woman ever to grace the halls of Congress, a title currently held by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Hunt’s potential victory is significant as she will become the second member of Generation Z to join the ranks of Capitol Hill. The first is Florida Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost who made history at age 25. 

Expressing a deeper sense of purpose that transcends individual goals, Hunt conveyed, “We’re missing such vital representation in our entire federal government.” Her statement echoes a sentiment that resonates among her generation. With Gen Z gradually reaching the age of eligibility for congressional candidacy, a major shift is taking place in the U.S political scenario. Law professor and political commentator at Loyola Marymount University, Jessica Levinson, believes that a higher percentage of Gen Z individuals are running for office compared to the previous generation at a similar age. This reflects an inclination toward political activism among Gen Z. 

Hunt’s interest in politics began in fourth grade. Amidst all the clamor on climate change, Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” inspired her to discover her calling. Raised by a single mother and grandmother who emigrated from Syria, Hunt’s pursuit of higher education and the unyielding spirit to succeed fueled her passion for serving communities. 

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Hunt’s candidacy is driven by the demographic imbalance in Congress. According to the Pew Research Center, as the median age of voting members is around 58, Hunt is advocating for youth representation in politics, especially young women. In an exclusive interview, Hunt shared, “I’d love it if someone else jumped in, but the only Gen Z woman running for Congress in the entire country is really intimidating.” 

Armed with dual degrees in political science and public policy from the University of Denver, followed by a law degree from the University of California at Irvine, Hunt is settling in for an illuminating political career. Her political prowess is evident in her pivotal role as a law and policy clerk for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, where she contributed to the first impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump and worked on technology policy. 

Social media like TikTok has been an educational tool for Hunt, which she leverages to amass a notable following and also engage in nuanced conversations on often overlooked policy issues. Rep. Ayanna Pressley has been her biggest inspiration as Hunt states, “Policy is my love language. It became the way that I wanted to be of service and really translate some of that pain into change.” 

Hunt’s political platform highlights several issues such as climate change advocacy, economic reform, and staunch support for abortion rights. In stark contrast, her potential opponent Michelle Steel, aligns herself with a pro-life stance often emphasizing state-level autonomy on abortion legislation. 

As the political arena heats up, Hunt is resolved to stay undeterred in her goal to address issues like homelessness and the soaring cost of living in her district. Her message to the community extends beyond her candidacy- “You don’t have to run for Congress to make a difference in the system. The power of your vote is profound.” As the primary approaches, the nation anticipates a tectonic shift to witness a 26-year-old Democrat making history.