Brown is a progressive Republican challenging a sitting incumbent Republican for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Being labeled as a millennial often comes with negative stigmas, like large numbers residing in parents’ basements and the millennial generation being the worst. Although, the twenty and thirtysomethings may get a bad rap, there is a millennial stepping up to the proverbial plate challenging those assumptions. Meet Lindsay Brown.
Brown, now living in Clark, New Jersey, is a typical millennial. She’s in her twenties, working in a more tech savvy job than what she studied in college, and burdened with student loan debt. Her views are more liberal and progressive. Views like healthcare as a right, is pro-choice, and wants to reform criminal justice. So, she decided to get into politics.
Brown is also a Republican.
“Liberal doesn’t even begin to cover it,” Brown joked about being very progressive on the conservative ticket. “The point of running for Congress as a millennial is to run for Congress as a millennial.”
With no formal background in politics, she is challenging political normalcy. If elected, she’d be the youngest person elected to Congress, where the average age of a U.S. Representative is 58-years-old.
“I’m hoping that by being the person who was previously not politically involved and decided, ‘You know, this is not working. I’m angry. And if I’m angry, I need to do something about it,’” Brown said.
On Deciding to Run
“So, there are a few different pieces that came together that caused me to think that I should run on the republican ticket instead of the democratic ticket,” Brown said. “I went and did the Women’s March, and on the bus ride home from the women’s march in DC I started thinking “What if I got involved with the local Republicans and tried to swing them left?’”
Although atypical, a Pew Research report in 2014 reported almost half of millennials claim mixed political views, but are liberal leaning. A more recent Pew report shows 41% of millennials are Independent, but 57% are liberal leaning.
When Brown decided to run, she also looked at statistics, candidates, and outcomes. There were two campaigns that influenced Brown: Progressive Democrat Peter Jacobs, who lost in his challenge to Leonard Lance’s House seat, and Dana Wefer, a Progressive Republican who ran for New Jersey’s Governor spot. What it told her was that progressivism is strong, but the Democratic brand isn’t enough to win.
On Gerrymandering and Fair Districting
“I’d like to change the Republican Party. Because if they’re going to gerrymander every single area of government so that they’re in charge, they’re obviously the party that needs the real restructuring.”
Brown admits that Democrats also are guilty of gerrymandering to stay in power, but Republicans happen to be in power now. She sees how voter maps of New Jersey are designed to do just that.
“It allows politicians to pick their voters,” she said, “Which is completely absurd.”
The New Jersey 7th Congressional District is one district strategically drawn.
“It can take you over two hours to drive from one end to the other,” Brown said about her district. She pointed out that Newark is a short drive from where she lives, but is not part of her district because of the intentional weaving of district lines to incorporate Republican voters.
On Grassroots and Engaging Millennials
“I’m trying to speak to the millennial experience because I’m living it too. You know, my husband and I have six figures of student loan debt that we’re still paying back,” Brown explained of how she is trying to engage millennials. “The campaign has largely digital and social media, which is where we all live.”
Her Facebook page is filled with live feeds from events, interviews she participated in, and ideas about her brand of politics.
“I’m not taking money from corporate lobbyists,” Brown explained about her campaign finances.
She is currently sourcing her money from voters on Crowdpac – a place where the everyday voter can find and fund candidates with similar political viewpoints.
“To be as young as I am, it encourages the next generation to be more enthusiastic about politics. Because right now, you know, millennials might be the biggest voting block, but a lot of them don’t vote.”
And she’s right about her take on the lack of voting. In the 2016 Presidential election, only half of millennials voted.
“This is me and a bunch of excited volunteers… I hope that motivates more people to, at the very least, vote in every election that they can. And if not just voting, that they start working on campaigns and getting involved in local activism groups.”
Can She Do It?
Millennials in politics are becoming a trend in recent news. Democrat Jon Ossoff nearly won the George House race outright; missing the outright win by about two-percent.
Brown’s “everyday millennial” can really be a resonating factor carrying her campaign forward. It’s not about just winning – it’s about making a real difference impacting more people, and especially millennials. If she can get the millennials to show up, like she has politically, she has a fair shot at taking New Jersey’s 7th.