The Corner

What’s It Like to Lose an Election to a 17-Year-Old Girl?

For West Virginia Delegate Larry D. Kump, the 2014 midterm election brought an additional sting beyond the pain that normally comes with being a man of a certain age. The libertarian-leaning Republican had to watch the person who defeated him in the primaries, 18-year-old Saira Blair, cruise to a commanding victory in the general election. At the time of the primary, Blair was all of 17, not yet old enough to vote.

But when National Review caught up with the 66-year-old Kump Wednesday, he was magnanimous. The Mountain State, he noted, has a citizen legislature, and after serving a few terms Kump is placid about leaving office when his current term ends. The former case manager at a maximum-security prison notes that he was already retired when he entered the West Virginia House of Delegates.

“She won fair and square,” Kump tells NRO of his primary opponent, “and she won real big in the general election.”

So what went wrong? Kump speculates that party bigwigs may have been displeased by his votes against a law that allows police in West Virginia to collect blood samples from drivers stopped for DUI and against new regulations on pet ownership that were adopted after the Great Zanesville Zoo Massacre. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kump specifies, “I am a constitutional libertarian, not a libertine libertarian.”

“I’ve been a very independent legislator with a strong libertarian streak,” Kump says. “I voted principle rather than party. It was a low-turnout primary, and the party regulars wanted somebody more loyal to party. In the primary, the Democrat had no opposition, so many independents voted in the Republican primary.” Although Blair is the daughter of a state senator whose father helped with her run, Kump gave the young politician credit for her campaign.

“She worked the numbers real well,” Kump says. “She ran a real strong, and positive, campaign.”

Kump says he has been contacted about future political efforts, but he is still assessing his options. “I don’t even buy green bananas,” he says. “I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 2016.”

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