EXCLUSIVE: He’s 19. He’s Republican. And He’s Running for State Senator.July 27, 2018
Why Tyler Flanigan thinks he has the right stuff – and, yes, the right experience – to be the youngest state senator in Connecticut.
Tyler Flanigan is 19 years old. Most 19-year-olds are working through college classes, spending summer vacation interning or working menial jobs, and enjoying the occasional keg party.
Flanigan is spending his summer, and his fall, he hopes, running for a position in Connecticut’s 36-member state senate.
Reclaim Connecticut caught up with Flanigan earlier this week on his unlikely campaign.
Flanigan’s campaign bio acknowledges his youth.
“Tyler Flanigan may be 19, but he’s no newcomer to politics, thanks to his tenacious drive, and his family name,” his bio begins.
But he talks as if he’s ready for a political primetime.
“I got involved in politics at the age of 14,” Flanigan said. For those keeping score, that’s the year 2013.
“For awhile I didn’t really like politics,” Flanigan told Reclaim Connecticut, citing the “backstabbing that went on in politics, just a way a lot of the people operated.”
But then he got his “call-up,” working for State Rep. David Vieira (R-Fairmouth) in Massachusetts and focusing on the opioid epidemic.
Since then, he’s tried “to branch out and learn as much as I could.”
That included a speechwriting gig in Oklahoma, an analyst position in Idaho on real estate policy, and, of course, plenty of campaigns.
“I worked on federal campaigns in Connecticut, I worked for a couple congressional candidates, a couple U.S. Senate candidates,” Flanigan said. “Why I chose to run is I had all this experience.”
“I LOVE CONNECTICUT”
Despite his work for a number of different states, Flanigan sounds ready to settle down and give back to Connecticut.
“I love Connecticut,” Flanigan said. “I’ve never had that young rebellion where I wanted to move to California or Florida or something.”
“I think the two extremes of the age bracket are getting squeezed,” Flanigan added. “I want to give everyone a shot, and we keep kicking the can down the road.”
Flanigan has a good grasp for the issues, better than some might expect from a 19-year-old.
When asked what the top issues in the ninth state senate district, Flanigan spoke at length.
“I think it’ll be the mix of economy and tolls,” Flanigan said.
Flanigan’s top priority in the state senate would be “cutting taxes for hardworking families and fighting tolls,” he said.
“Tony Guerrera’s running for this seat,” Flanigan said, referencing the powerful House Democrat looking to replace outgoing State Sen. Paul Doyle (D-Wethersfield). “I hate it to break it to Tony, but tolls are essentially a mileage tax when you look at it.”
“It’s really a tax,” Flanigan said, of tolls. “Seventy-five percent of the people who are gonna pay for the tolls are Connecticut residents.”
Transportation, Flanigan said, “isn’t a revenue problem, this is a spending problem.”
“I refuse to accept the idea that we need tolls, we need more revenue,” Flanigan concluded, “We just need to spend smarter.”
EXPERIENCE, NOT AGE
One criticism opponents will lob at Flanigan is that, at 19, he’s not ready to be a state senator. Flanigan dismisses those critiques, arguing that maturity comes with “experience, not age.”
“I’m by far the most experienced Republican candidate in this race,” Flanigan said. “I’ve found a great balance between experience and youth.”
“This is a generational election,” Flanigan argued, and “I think we need a new generation of leadership.”
He acknowledges his candidacy “is unique, and it is different.”
“But that’s what we need in Connecticut, is unique and different.”
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