Eighteen year old Saira Blair made history on Tuesday by becoming West Virginia's youngest Republican lawmaker.
The West Virginia University freshman, who is said to be pro-life and pro-guns, defeated Democrat Layne Diehl, a 44-year-old Martinsburg attorney, by 63 percent to 30 percent, according to The Associated Press.
A third candidate received 7 percent of the vote. Blair expressed her excitement on social networking site Facebook after victoriously winning a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates.
"When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation's voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state's most challenging issues," Blair wrote. "History has been made tonight in West Virginia, and while I am proud of all that we have accomplished together, it is the future of this state that is now my singular focus."
The fiscal conservative made headlines in May, when she was just 17, after winning the West Virginia GOP primary by an 872-728 vote margin, beating out 66-year-old incumbent Del. Larry Krump of Falling Waters.
She is the daughter of state Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, and she has campaigned on a pledge to cut taxes for businesses and believes limited government would enable economic growth and higher paying jobs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SAIRA BLAIR'S POLITICAL BELIEFS CLICK HERE
Blair attends church on Sundays at The Church at Martinsburg, located roughly two hours from her WVU campus and her pastor described her as being interactive, "driven" and as having had a solid upbringing and a strong biblical worldview. He also weighed in on criticism that she might be "too young" for politics.
"I would say she is very personable, driven and aware. When I say aware, I don't know that I would describe every 18 year old as having a strong sense of self awareness but I think Saira has that, and I think that's due to her family upbringing [and] the circumstance she grew up in," Pastor Jacob Atchley told The Christian Post.
While campaigning from her WVU dorm room, Blair is said to have handwritten thousands of letters to potential voters which Atchley said is a perfect demonstration of her personable nature.
"... One of the things that really drives our church here is the personal interaction that Jesus had with people," he explained. "And I think that is demonstrated in Saira's life by the fact that she handwrote thousands of letters to her then potential, now actual constituency and I feel like that personal nature that Christ has with his people ... is demonstrated clearly in Saira."
There are a reported 7,300-plus state legislators in the U.S., and less than 5 percent of them are younger than 30, according to Morgan Cullen, a policy analyst at NCSL.
Critics have openly questioned whether Blair, a young woman that is barely old enough to vote, is fit to be a legislator. Atchley said that ultimately what matters is that voters have spoken.
"Whether or not you and I think Saira Blair is mature enough for this position, the country that we live in has given her the right and the freedom to run for office," he said. "And the people of her district have voted for her and so in a very real sense my opinion does not matter. … I think that Saira is a young woman who understands what she's getting into as best as any junior law maker would understand what they're getting in to."
Atchley sat down with Blair and prayed with her just weeks before the election. He said that the church is "excited" about her journey ahead.
"... We're excited about how the Lord's going to use her in what she has ahead. She and I met several weeks before the election. We sat down, we prayed together and really thought through how her decision making is going to be made and the convictions that she has and so I presented her with a Bible on behalf of the church," he shared. "As best I can tell she's got a really strong, biblical understanding of what is ahead for her and she's going to do what she can to deliver policy and law around the convictions she's been raised with and the biblical world view that she has."