Lucas Agnew CM ’15 is trying to
harness millennial support for Jeb Bush in the next presidential election,
challenging the notion that millennials are a relatively politically disengaged group. He and fellow Claremont McKenna College students
are showing their support for Bush by leading their own Super PAC called
Millennials for Jeb.
Agnew said the idea to create a
Super PAC was inspired by his academic experience at CMC, where he is dual
majoring in government and legal studies.
“I thought, Jeb’s a candidate
that I really support, and you don’t really see Super PACs started by
millennials,” Agnew noted. “Some of us have tried, but none have really been
too successful. I thought there was really an opportunity for this, and I
thought now would be the time to go for it.”
Agnew, who hails from Federal
Way, Wash., first became involved in politics years ago as a sign coordinator
for a local mayoral candidate, which he describes as his “proudest moment.” He
continued his involvement by working in the legislature, congressional and governor campaigns, and congress.
“Politics has been an interest of
mine for a while,” he said. “I really wanted to go to CMC because it’s so
strong in government.”
Agnew submitted paperwork for the
organization after winter break. The group is currently in its brainstorming
phase and is discussing strategies to meet their goal to “raise half a million
dollars by election day.” Agnew said that its current donation pool is “getting towards a thousand
CMC government professor Fred
Lynch said that Agnew does not belong to the traditional demographic that
typically creates or is a part of political action committees.
“I think you’re more likely to
raise money with the established donors and major contributors like Henry
Kravis [CM ’67] than with millennials,” Lynch said, using Kravis as an example
of a typical Super PAC member. However, he said that Agnew’s Super PAC has an
opportunity to create an impact, albeit not a financial one.
Politico reported that Kravis hosted a $100,000 per-attendee
dinner last month on Wall Street in support of the Right to Rise Super PAC, a
group committed to financially backing the efforts of 2016 potential
presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
“I think the real money is going
to come from managers like Henry Kravis,” Lynch said. “But since Bush has been
weakest with the youngest Republicans, who tend to be the most populist, the
youth enthusiasm needs to be bottled [and] reached out to, so I think that’s
why there’s a Super PAC for millennials. Jeb Bush is interested in millennials,
and millennials are interested in him.”
Michelle Goodwin CM ’16, Director
of Outreach for Millennials for Jeb echoed Lynch’s sentiments in an email
“This PAC will make a difference
because it is something new. It is for millennials, by millennials,” she wrote.
“The potential to get a more active and engaged millennial population is huge
… We have a scene in which political discussion is stifled due to fear of
judgment. Millennials for Jeb will help open up that discussion.”
Ultimately, Agnew hopes to change
“the public perception that [PACs] are just for the wealthiest of wealthy and
the Washington insiders.”
When asked what motivates him to
keep going, Agnew said it is his desire to “make the statement that anyone can
do this. If you have a good cause and it’s something that you believe in,
there’s no problem.”