“Basically, we were like, ‘Wow, [female politicians] are really cool, and especially Kirsten Gillibrand, too. She’s a really strong role model for women to get into politics and to encourage young women leaders,” Zhurbinskiy said.
Zhurbinskiy is also a chess champion — she’s ranked 36th for females under 18 and 73rd overall for U.S. women — and said her experiences with the game have fed her interest in politics.
“All of this isn’t as impressive as it may sound, because sadly the ratio of men to women in American chess is about 15:1. That’s really what taught me a lot about sexism when I was younger, and how it’s so important to get more women involved — which is something that carried over to me wanting to pursue a future in politics,” she said.
“Gillibrand ... she’s just like an iconic woman that I want as a president,” Waksman told CQ Roll Call “She’s just ... I agree with her on about everything.”
Waksman and Zhurbinskiy both plan to pursue careers in politics, on the campaign and the governing side. Both plan to eventually run for office. Zhurbinskiy has her sights set on the Senate and then perhaps the presidency, while Waksman would be content with stopping at the Senate.
Waksman has promised to be Zhurbinskiy’s vice presidential running mate when and if her candidacy gets off the ground.
Waksman is also responsible for drawing up a petition on Change.org to encourage her parents to let her go to the Congressional Women’s Softball Game and cheer on her idol.
“They barely know about the petition,” she told us. “I posted it on Facebook and then my dad yelled at me and told me to take it down. I don’t know. We’re supposed to go on vacation [to Ocean City, Md.,] that week. Now he’s letting me go apparently. ... I don’t know. They think I’m crazy.”
The elder Waksman will gamely accompany his daughter when she meets her friend Zhurbinskiy and another friend, Shannon Aber, 16, in D.C. for the first time.
The girls are stoked and have drawn signs supporting Gillibrand (their pick for the 2016 presidential race), as well as Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., (their dream 2024 presidential ticket).