Local Politics

N.C. delegate, other teens add youth to Grand Old Party

Posted September 2, 2008 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2008 8:36 p.m. EDT

— Political analysts have said the outcome of the presidential election in November could depend on voter turnout among two groups: minorities and young voters. Although those groups tend to vote Democratic, the Republican Party is working to win them over.

The Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln and Reagan, is seen by many as just that – old. Making 72-year-old John McCain the oldest first-term presidential nominee in U.S. history doesn't alter that image.

But Nelia Hamby sees a streak of youthful excitement in the Republican Party. The 18-year-old from Kannapolis is the youngest North Carolina delegate at the national convention this week and could be the state's youngest delegate in history.

"The Republican Party isn't just a whole bunch of old, stuffy people. There is youth and vibrance in the Republican Party too because we are the next generation," said Hamby, who noted she is inspired by McCain's vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and all she's accomplished in her public life.

Hamby said she's been interested in politics since she was very young, a quality that makes her and some other North Carolina teens  at the convention so important to the future of the GOP.

"I started off by really simply reading the Constitution. I read the Constitution and said, 'Wow, this is amazing. This is how things are supposed to be run. Well, let's make sure that politicians are actually following it,'" said Jimmy Doster, a senior at Raleigh Christian Academy.

"A lot of my classmates and I will be voting on Nov. 4," said Lauren Hadley, a senior at Ravenscroft School. "I think it's important that they take an interest in this, and a lot of them aren't taking it very seriously. They're either voting Republican because that's what their parents are, or they're voting (for Democratic nominee Barack) Obama because they want change."

Obama and the Democratic Party are far ahead in recruiting young voters, but Doster said he and his colleagues hope to change that trend.

"Young people have been inspired by Barack Obama, it's true. The Republican Party needs to inspire young people to feel like they have an obligation, which they do – a duty to go out and vote, to campaign, to be involved in the political process," he said.