With millions of video views and hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, young Tomi Lahren is leaving her mark on the political world from her new media perch on the right. Could Congress be next?
Lahren is no stranger to Republicans, conservatives, and Donald Trump supporters. Her “Final Thoughts” segment chastising San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for protesting racial injustice by sitting during the national anthem has been viewed more than 66 million times on Facebook.
The confrontational 24-year old was introduced to the rest of the country (and the rest of the ideological spectrum) recently with a profile in The New York Times, “Young, Vocal and the Right’s Rising Media Star,” and a 26-minute sparring match with Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.
If she wants it, Lahren would have a plausible path to Congress.
She is a native of Rapid City, South Dakota. And less than a week after winning re-election last month, GOP Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota announced she would leave her at-large district at the end of her term to run for governor in 2018.
With Trump’s 62 percent to 32 percent victory over Hillary Clinton in the Mount Rushmore State and Noem’s 64 percent to 36 percent re-election victory, the battle for the congresswoman’s seat will essentially take place in the Republican primary.
Lahren has the opportunity to overwhelm the field.
The Trump supporter has 421,000 Twitter followers and 3.6 million likes on her official Facebook page. For some context, the population of South Dakota is approximately 850,000, close to 370,000 people voted in the recent presidential contest, and 82,000 Republicans voted in the 2010 competitive congressional primary when there wasn’t an incumbent on the ballot.
Of course only a fraction of Lahren’s following comes from within South Dakota, but she would have tremendous fundraising capacity for a House candidate, if she decided to turn her supporters’ attention in an electoral direction.
An email inquiry about her interest in running for Congress was sent to TheBlaze, where she hosts a nightly show, and was passed along to her producers, but has otherwise gone unanswered.
Lahren is currently too young to serve in the House, but will be 26 years old on Election Day 2018. (The minimum age to serve in the chamber is 25.) And she doesn’t shy away from her roots. In a recent “Final Thoughts” segment about the Dakota Access Pipeline (which garnered 6.5 million views), she mentioned being from South Dakota and having family in North Dakota and called it “my neck of the woods.”
If a primary battle got into social issues, Lahren could be vulnerable since she is pro-abortion rights and does not object to gay marriage, according to the Times piece. But that might not matter much if she dominates the field with personality and spending.