Congressional Candidate Uses Youth To Advantage

By John Celock

A Pennsylvania Democrat aiming to become the nation’s youngest congressman is using his youth to his advantage in a new ad, saying that he will approach Congress with a perspective different from others.

Democrat Dan LaVallee, 26, unveiled a new ad entitled “Yeah” where he says Congress is doing a “horrible job” in response to those who say that he’s too young to serve in Congress. LaVallee is challenging Rep. Mike Kelly (R) in the district bordering Lake Erie in western Pennsylvania.

“Some people I’m too young to serve in Congress. Yeah. If you think the incumbents are doing a good job,” LaVallee says in the ad. “They are doing a horrible job. Helping the wealthy who have the connections and forgetting the people who have to work for a living.”

LaVallee then connects the overall message of Congress to what he says is Kelly “fitting right in” as a congressman, attacking the congressman for votes on tax cuts for the wealthy and increasing the deficit. LaVallee has centered his campaign on promoting the middle class in the district and has promoted his youth in the past as bringing a change to Congress.

He challenged those watching the ad on his age saying that if they agreed with what he said Congress is doing then they’ll believe his age hinders his performance.

“Because if you agree with that, yeah, I’m too young,” he said.

If elected, LaVallee would become the nation’s youngest congressman and one of the youngest members of Congress in American history. He would grab the honorary title of “Baby of the House” from Rep. Patrick Murphy, a 31-year-old Florida Democrat. The next youngest member of Congress is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a 33-year-old Hawaii Democrat, followed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, a 33-year-old California Democrat.

LaVallee’s message of using his age as a way to say he’d approach the job differently is a common theme for young elected officials across the country. Swalwell used the message as part of his successful 2012 campaign to unseat then Rep. Pete Stark (D) in a San Francisco Bay area district, while Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D), 33, the nation’s youngest statewide elected official. has used it in his campaigns for the state Legislature and statewide office. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (D), 37-year-old eyeing a 2017 campaign for New Jersey governor, has used the same message since his first successful city council campaign in 2005.