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25-year-old activist Maxwell Frost could become the first Gen Z member of Congress

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Maxwell Frost, National Organizing Director for March For Our Lives, speaks during a March For Our Lives Florida drive-in rally and aid event at Tinker Field in Orlando on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Stephen M. Dowell | Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year old progressive activist, is expected to become the first Gen Z member of Congress after he won the democratic primary for Florida's 10th Congressional District, an open and liberal seat containing parts of Orlando.

"I think this win shows the country: Don't count us out. Don't count out young people," Frost told NBC's "Meet the Press" after securing the nomination on Aug. 23.

Frost previously worked as a top organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union and March for Our Lives. He is focused on issues like ending gun violence, canceling student debt, passing the Green New Deal and supporting Medicare for All. He also drives for Uber to pay his bills, hasn't finished college (instead focusing on community organizing) and recently quit his job to run for Congress.

"There's been a lot of hopelessness around the state over the past year," Frost told "Meet the Press." "But when people hear this message, one that says you deserve health care, one that says we need to fight to ensure that we prevent the climate crisis, one that says you deserve these things by virtue of being human — it doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican, it's about people versus the problem."

Frost says his activism was shaped as early as elementary school, when he learned about wealth inequality during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. He grew up 30 minutes from where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2012.

He has worked as an activist since the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, and is vocal about being a survivor of a separate incident of gun violence. 

"Our generation has been born into a lot of trauma and a lot of civil unrest around people being frustrated with things. And I think because of that, our generation naturally thinks about things in a bit of a different way," Frost told NPR in July.

Gen Zers are on their way to Congress

Though the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly skews older, white and male, it is becoming more diverse across race, ethnicity, gender and age.

The 2022 midterms are the first time members of Gen Z can run for Congress, which Pew Research Center defines as people born between 1997 and 2012. The minimum age to serve in the U.S. House is 25 years old.

Frost isn't the only Gen Z candidate for Congress this fall. On Sept. 13, 25-year-old Karoline Leavitt won the Republican primary in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District.

Leavitt, a former Trump press staffer, defeated Matt Mowers, 33, a former Trump State Department official, to secure the GOP nomination. The two ran on similar platforms as staunch conservatives and political outsiders, though Leavitt openly upholds the lie that Trump won the 2020 election, and Mowers has not directly addressed it.

Leavitt will go up against incumbent Democrat Chris Pappas, 42, for the toss-up seat that Republicans hope to flip and help win back the House majority.

Winning out in a crowded, experienced field

If elected in November, Frost will be the only Afro-Cuban member of Congress.

He received high-profile endorsements from progressive leaders including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Frost won his primary in a crowded 10-candidate race of more experienced Democrats, including former member of Congress Alan Grayson and state Sen. Randolph Bracy.

"Today's election is proof that Central Florida's working families want representation that has the courage to ask for more," Frost said in a statement following his victory. "I share this victory with the nurses, forklift drivers, teachers, caregivers, social workers, farmers, union organizers, cashiers and other members of this vibrant community who supported this campaign."

Florida's 10th Congressional District seat was previously held by Rep. Val Demings, who left to run for U.S. Senate. Demings won the Democratic nomination Aug. 23 and will face off with Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio in November.

Frost will go up against Republican Calvin Wimbish, a retired Army Green Beret and conservative activist, in November.

Check out:

These are Gen Z’s top work priorities—and remote isn’t one of them

Turning down a $300K job, deferring dreams of Austin: How Roe’s end is changing millennials’ career plans—and lives

Only 12% of older millennials would run for political office—far fewer than any other generation

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