Axios Interview: Gen Z’s Maxwell Frost

Fresh off victory in a crowded Democratic primary for Florida’s 10th congressional district, 25-year-old Maxwell Frost – who is set to become the first Gen Z member of Congress – is already talking about his plans to raise a new generation of National, State and Local Office candidates.

Why is this important: Together, Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Gen Z (born 1997 to 2012) make up about a third of the 2020 electorate. But their representation in Congress has yet to catch up.

  • Generation Y represents only 7% of the 117th Congress.
  • 2022 is the first election cycle in which Gen Z candidates are old enough to meet the 25-year-old eligibility requirement to run for the House.

What they say : “I’m the first, I certainly won’t be the last,” Frost told Axios in a phone interview days after his comfortable victory in a field of 10 candidates.

  • “I’ll be very involved in the political side of things and making sure that we have… not just young people, but just a whole new generation of people, saying, ‘Hey, you know what? I can run for office,'” Frost said. “Not just Congress either. Like, the school board — you know? County commission. Everything like that.”

The political novice did not finish college but organized for the ACLU and March for Our Lives. He drove for Uber during his campaign.

  • Backed by top progressives, including the Senses. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Frost defeated seasoned rivals including State Senator Randolph Bracy and former U.S. Representatives Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown. Incumbent Representative Val Demings is running for the Senate.
  • Despite outscoring his closest opponent by more than 2 to 1, with $1.5 million in August, Frost told Axios that winning was anything but a sure bet. “I know what it means to run for office with no money in the bank and no support at the start,” he said.
  • Frost, who is Afro-Cuban, will face Calvin Wimbish, 72, a black Republican conservative activist and retired Army Green Beret, in November. The neighborhood is solidly Democratic, making Frost the heavy favorite.

The plot: Frost thinks his generation has a higher shock threshold when it comes to politicians’ personal lives or exposure to social media.

Consider recent stories that have harassed young politicians like Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) or Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

  • Frost said there was “a sense of truth” to The Cawthorn case that many of his colleagues would not be in office if they had grown up in the digital age, although he called Cawthorn’s political positions “disqualifying”.
  • The controversy over leaked videos that showed Cawthorn in sexually explicit situations is “not really what bothered me about him.”
  • On his own victory night in the primary, Frost recalled, “I was dancing on stage, and some news outlets were like, ‘Oh look, he’s dancing, that’s interesting!’ And in my head, I’m like, I don’t really see that.”

The bottom line: Frost doesn’t necessarily see himself as a troublemaker in the “Squad” mold, but positions himself with young progressives who want a tougher Democratic Party.

  • “We shouldn’t come to the compromise table yet,” he said. “There will be times of compromise…what I’m saying is don’t lose sight of the North Star.”

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