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An organization works to get Republicans to focus on issues important to Gen Z

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

In her rebuttal to President Biden's State of the Union, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for a new generation of Republican leadership. But who exactly is that new generation? Well, they might look like Joe Mitchell, who at 21 was the youngest person ever elected to the Iowa House of Representatives back in 2018. Mitchell now runs Gen Z GOP, which supports young Republicans running for office, and he joins us now. Good morning, Joe.

JOE MITCHELL: Good morning, Leila. How are you guys?

FADEL: I'm doing well. Glad to have you on the program. So let's start with this new generation. Does it exist? Is there a young generation of Republican leadership coming up? And is there a big difference between that generation and the older generation in the party?

MITCHELL: Yeah. So our organization is called Run GenZ. And so what our mission is, is to empower, recruit and mentor the next generation of conservative leaders across this country from the state and local levels. So we're helping to build this bench and this farm team for the next generation of leaders that are coming to run for city council and county Board of Supervisors and state legislative positions. And so we've been up and running for about two years now - had wonderful success, had an 80% win rate in the last midterm. But we're focusing on those folks, 18 to 30, that are conservative and wanting to run for office.

FADEL: And in that group, 18 to 30, what are the issues that are important to that generation when - that generation of conservatives?

MITCHELL: Well, I think it depends, you know, where you're at in the country. I think it depends, you know, what you may be running for. Obviously, if you're running for a school board position, that may be different than the issues on the city council or the state legislative, you know, level. And I think, you know, a lot of our young people, you know, that are running are still running in districts that, you know, there's a high population of, you know, older Americans that are voting, you know, in those races. So there's really two different topics there - young people running, what they have to cater to and those traditional issues that may come up - you know, funding law enforcement, the economy, you know, the border, even, in some places. And then you have, you know, on a national basis, how can we get more young people to actually vote, you know, with conservatives more?

FADEL: I'm looking at a poll right now that shows younger voters are more likely to view the Democratic Party favorably over the Republican Party, although neither get a resounding approval rating. What does your party need to do to change that?

MITCHELL: Well, so, you know, some of the statistics I've been looking at lately is that, you know, historically, in midterm elections, 11 to 13% of the electorate are folks under 30. And so this last midterm, there wasn't, you know, substantial more amount of young people under 30 that voted. It was about 12% of the electorate. But there was an overwhelmingly amount of folks that normally - you know, 60-40 is Democrat, Republican, they're voting, these young people, but now they're voting 70-30. And there's a widening gap of young people that are voting for, you know, Democrat candidates, you know, across the country. And so, you know, what we're working on is trying to address issues that maybe young people care about a little bit more - the environment, you know, potentially school shootings, women's health care, and saying that these are things that we also care about. We may just have different solutions to helping to solve those problems.

FADEL: Joe Mitchell of Run GenZ GOP, thanks so much for joining us.

MITCHELL: Hey, thanks, Leila. You guys take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.