A service of Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Maxwell Alejandro Frost becomes the first Gen Z member of Congress

ELISSA NADWORNY, HOST:

Before these midterms, nobody in Generation Z had ever made it to Congress. Gen Z is born after 1996, so they hadn't been eligible to run. But last night in Orlando...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAXWELL ALEJANDRO FROST: I didn't run to be the first Gen Z member of Congress, right? I ran to represent District 10 and the people here in Central Florida because I believe in our state.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

That is Maxwell Alejandro Frost speaking with Politico. He's 25 years old, and he took a double-digit victory in a solidly blue district last night. He will occupy the seat vacated by Democratic Representative Val Demings, who unsuccessfully ran for Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FROST: Gen Z and millennials make up a third of our country, but we're nowhere near a third of government. And I think we need a government that looks like the people, so I'm excited to bring that representation to Congress. I'm the first, but I definitely won't be the last.

NADWORNY: His victory means his career has now gone from organizer to office.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

FROST: This country has a huge gun culture problem.

NADWORNY: That's Frost in an interview last year with NPR's Juana Summers, now our co-host. After the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Frost was drawn to anti-gun violence activism. He became the national organizing director for March for Our Lives, which advocates for gun control policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

FROST: You think, what do we need to do to end gun violence? Universal background checks, ban assault weapons. And these are important things. Don't get me wrong. I'm going to fight like hell for these things once I'm a member of Congress. But this is what the NRA is counting on - on us just spouting the same three policy points and hoping they'll pass.

CHANG: Frost doesn't fit the profile of many legislators. He hasn't finished college. He's young and Afro Cuban, and he isn't from wealth. He drove for Uber to pay his bills while on the campaign trail.

NADWORNY: He initially resisted calls to run for office, but he said a call from his biological mother changed his mind. He received support from high-profile progressives like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. And after the race was called for him, he told CNN he got a call from the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FROST: Well, the president brought up, you know, when he was elected to the Senate, he was actually too young to be sworn in, and a few days before, on his birthday, he was able to go in. And he asked me if it was the same situation. And I said, no, Mr. President, you have me beat on that. I'm already old enough to be sworn in on January 3.

CHANG: On Twitter, Frost said, quote, "we made history for Floridians, for Gen Z and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future." And he also said he was going to celebrate on Thursday by seeing the rock band The 1975 in concert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.