Maxwell Alejandro Frost may become first Gen Z member of Congress
By Maggie Astor
Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old progressive activist, won a Democratic primary in an Orlando, Florida-area House district Tuesday, setting himself up to be the first member of Congress from Generation Z.
Frost defeated his nearest competitor, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, by about 10 percentage points, according to The Associated Press, with more than 95% of estimated votes counted in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Former Reps. Alan Grayson, who was previously accused of congressional ethics violations, and Corrine Brown, who served time in prison in a fraud case, were substantially behind in third and fourth place.
Frost — who had received an array of prominent endorsements, including from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the AFL-CIO — said Tuesday evening that he was excited to work on issues that had come up often in his conversations with voters: gun violence, abortion rights, economic security. He is a safe bet to win the general election in November, given that the 10th District is 14 percentage points more Democratic than the nation as a whole.
Frost said that because of the circumstances in which Gen Z came of age — particularly the ubiquity of mass shootings — many of its members “have a natural sense of seeing the world through the eyes of the most vulnerable.” He was born in 1997, which is the first year of Gen Z, according to the Pew Research Center’s commonly cited definition.
“I come from a generation that has gone through more mass shooting drills than fire drills,” Frost said. “This is something that my generation has had to face head-on: being scared to go to school, being scared to go to church, being scared to be in your community. That gives me a sense of urgency, because this is something I live day to day.”
Frost is a former organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union and the youth-led anti-gun-violence group March for Our Lives, which was founded after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. His campaign emphasized his work on successful efforts to restore voting rights for Floridians with felony convictions and to persuade Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign to abandon his past support for the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment.
This is the first year a member of Gen Z could be elected to the House, which has a minimum age of 25. One other Gen Z member, Karoline Leavitt, is running as a Republican in New Hampshire, where primaries are being held next month.
The youngest member of the current Congress is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, 27, R-N.C., who was born in 1995 — putting him at the tail end of the millennial generation. He lost his primary this year.
Young Americans have fought hard for more political power in recent years, as voters and as elected officials. Assuming Frost wins in November, it will be the third election in a row in which at least one newly elected House member has been younger than 30. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was 29 when she was first elected in 2018, and Cawthorn was 25 when he was elected in 2020.
The first millennial to serve in Congress was Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who was elected at age 27 in 2008, two years after the oldest millennials became eligible. He resigned in 2015.
Frost said that when fellow organizers started urging him to run for Congress last year, he was initially skeptical, knowing that winning an election would be an uphill climb for a young man who is Afro-Cuban.
What convinced him, he said, was speaking to his biological mother for the first time last June and hearing from her that she had given birth to him “at the most vulnerable point in her life.” He described the conversation as an “almost spiritual” experience that left him certain he needed to run for office to help people in similarly vulnerable situations.
He has stayed in touch with her since then, he said, and she reached out after he won Tuesday.
“She texted me that she was really proud of me,” Frost said, “and always knew that I would do big things.”