West Virginia legislator

Caleb Hanna: Youngest Black Legislator to Win West Virginia House of Delegates

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The West Virginia House of Delegates gathered together to welcome the nation’s youngest black legislator Del. Caleb L. Hanna, who has set a record by being elected in November 2018 at the age of 19.

“I always knew that I was not satisfied with the leadership I was getting within my own house district,” Hanna said in an interview. “I told myself if I ever had my opportunity to take that, I would give it my shot.”

In the beginning, Hanna had a small Republican campaign designed to push Democratic incumbent Dana Lynch to be “more proactive in the legislature”. But, later while studying economics at the West Virginia State University, he realized he could win the Republican primary, even if his campaign was run from his dorm room.

While gearing up for the general elections, Hanna faced several difficulties, including restrained budget, an instance of racist flyers that he reported also, and doubts about his age and experience. Nevertheless, he overcame his fears and obstacles, and defeated Lynch by roughly 25 points in West Virginia House of Delegates District 44 in November.

Hanna has been elected as a member of the majority party in the House of Delegates, in the state capital Charleston. He said he is ready to work on the economic issues that motivated West Virginia voters in 2018. Gun rights is going to be one of the first few issues that he wants to tackle by co-sponsoring a campus carry bill.

“The Constitution clearly lays out our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, not just in our homes but also in our places of work and our places of study,” Hanna told the media. “I live in my college dorm while I’m at the legislature. … I consider that to be my home. I feel like I should have the right to protect myself in my home.”

Hanna also appreciated his colleagues, who are already in the leadership, for helping him with his queries. “Not far from my office is Del. Ben Queen, who is only 23. He’s served a term here already, and he’s also a young member, so he kind of was in the same shoes as me. He was a great inspiration for me to learn from,” he said.

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