16-Year-Old Runs for Kansas Governor’s Office

By Steven Mei

 

A 16-year-old is running for the governor of Kansas, despite being unable to vote in the 2018 elections.

Jack Bergeson, a high-school student from Wichita, hopes to increase youth political engagement with his run for candidacy.

“If they [young people] see someone else who is their same age running—running on ideas that are becoming popular nowadays—it will kind of shed the stigma away and may attract a lot more people to caring about the future of our state and our country,” Bergeson told The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Kansas is only one of the two states, the other being Vermont, that does not have an age requirement.

In Kansas, “The law is silent on qualifications for governor,” Kansas Director of Elections Bryan Caskey told The Hutchingson News.

There’s nothing in the law—there’s no age, no citizenship, no residency, no nothing,” he said.

Even a Missouri resident could run for the state’s high office, he added that is if they pay the fee to get on the ballot.

After the teen found out this fact, it made him think, “Oh I could do that,” according to Governing magazine.

Bergeson hopes he can inspire youngsters to get involved in politics and vote. (Facebook / Jack Bergeson For Kansas Governor)
Bergeson hopes he can inspire youngsters to get involved in politics and vote. (Facebook/Jack Bergeson For Kansas Governor)

Bergeson’s decision to run for governor surprised political scientist Michael Smith, who works at Emporia State University, reported Governing magazine.

“If this guy is at all reasonable, it could be a very good thing,” Smith said. “It’s always a such challenge to get young people to politically engage. … I’m not saying he’ll win the nomination or anything, but if he could talk to other, maybe not 16-year-olds but people just turning 18 and get them to engage, I mean it could be a really good thing.”

But Bergeson said it doesn’t matter if he loses the election.

“I’m getting in to give the people a chance,” Bergeson told Governing magazine. “It doesn’t matter much if I win or lose. I’m giving people the option.”

The teen called his run for the Democratic nomination, “anti-establishment” and it would bring “a clean slate,” reported Governing magazine.

Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Bergeson on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday, asking him questions like if he was just trying to get a campaign manager “so you have a person to buy you beer,” and if he asked any girls to be his “first lady.”

 
 
 
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