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'Gen Z community advocate' Isaiah Martin is running for Congress in Texas
Texas Gen Zer Isaiah Martin launched his campaign for Congress with a focus on voting rights, and Vice President Kamala Harris announced a college campus tour.
As the 2024 cycle continues to 🔥 heat up 🔥, 25-year-old Isaiah Martin, another Gen Z candidate, launched his campaign for Congress this week.
With his announcement video Wednesday, Martin, a Democrat, leaned into voting rights — an issue he’s championed in Texas for years. While a student at University of Houston (where he graduated in 2021), he spearheaded an initiative to make the campus football stadium a polling site.
A self-described “Gen-Z community advocate,” Martin founded and served as president of #FortheStudents, a student advocacy organization on campus, through which he helped provide resources for survivors of sexual assault at University of Houston and other Houston area colleges/universities, worked to combat food insecurity, promoted COVID vaccinations for skeptical young people, and distributed water to students during the 2021 Texas winter freeze.
Martin is running in Texas’ 18th Congressional District, which is currently held by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who’s running for mayor of Houston this year (she didn’t have to give up her House seat to seek city office).
Martin, who previously interned for Jackson Lee, currently works as a consultant focused on aero-space government contracts, his website says. He also ran for Houston City Council earlier this year, before dropping out of the race.
According to a post on X (formerly Twitter), Martin raised over $130,000 from 6,886 donors within the first 24 hours of his announcement. The average donation was $18.25 — which he said in a statement signals “grassroots excitement.”
I checked in with Martin to learn more about his launch.
Asked what sparked his decision to run for Congress, Martin — like other members of his generation who have run or are running for federal and local seats — described a sense of urgency around hot-button issues he considers priorities.
“We are in a pivotal movement in history. My generation is known as the lockdown generation — we're the first generation where duck duck goose in our schools have being replaced with duck and cover, we're the first generation where bulletproof backpacks are on back to school shopping lists, we're the first generation where the vast majority don't feel like they'll ever be able to buy a home, the first generation that worries whether their vote will even count in a few years, and we’re the first generation watching the globe burn,” Martin told The Up and Up in an email. “I'm running to fight for the future of our kids, the future of our seniors, and the future of this country,” he said.
He said he’s prioritizing voting access because he’s witnessed tactics to suppress votes in his community — calling out Republicans in the state, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who have passed restrictive voting measures.
“My district is literally ground zero for voter suppression,” Martin said. “The democracy that we are in is not guaranteed if we don't fight for it — and I wanted America to know about it.”
Martin said his campaign is unique because of “the distinct opportunity to build a cross-generational movement that stays focused on the issues.”
Martin was immediately endorsed by youth-led voter engagement group Voters of Tomorrow (VOT).
“With bold plans and an unwavering commitment to his community, Isaiah exemplifies that our generation isn't waiting for the future — we are the change-makers of today,” VOT founder and executive director Santiago Mayer said in a statement endorsing Martin Wednesday.
Vice President Kamala Harris is headed on a college campus tour
In an effort to engage with and speak directly to young Americans, Vice President Kamala Harris is heading on a multi-stop college campus tour. The “Fight For Our Freedoms College Tour,” which was first reported by ABC News, will kick off at Hampton University, a historically Black university in Virginia, next week.
Soon after, according to the White House, the vice president will visit a range of HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and state schools in key states including: North Carolina A&T, Morehouse College, University of Wisconsin - Madison, College of Southern Nevada, and Northern Arizona University. The White House says the tour will focus on issues such as abortion access, voting rights, gun safety, climate action, LGBTQ+ equality, and book bans.
“This generation is critical to the urgent issues that are at stake right now for our future,” Harris, who’s been holding listening sessions with young people, said in a White House press release Thursday. “It is young leaders throughout America who know what the solutions look like and are organizing in their communities to make them a reality. My message to students is clear: We are counting on you, we need you, you are everything.”
Ahead of Harris’ first stop, I reached out to two current Hampton University seniors, Lillian Carr and Jessica Renée Cody, to see how they’re feeling about the upcoming high-profile visit. Both Carr and Cody are heavily involved on campus and voted in both 2020 and 2022. In a series of texts, the pair noted with pride that Harris visited the school in 2021 and said they’re looking forward to the upcoming event.
📲 Lillian Carr, 21, from Tampa, Florida — Student Government Association President
“I am super excited about Vice President Harris’ visit! It is ground breaking to see such representation, someone who looks like me, in our nation’s most powerful office. I can’t wait to embrace her and ask her all about her experience as VP, thus far,” Carr said in a text. “This will allow students to recognize the value in their vote and how their voice plays a vital role in selecting those who publicly serve. It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to engage with the Vice President of the United States. We are being offered the opportunity of a lifetime.”
📲 Jessica Renée Cody, 21, from Fayetteville, North Carolina — Student Representative to Hampton University’s Board of Trustees
“I am so excited about Vice President Harris’ visit to Hampton University. I know that if this visit is anything like her visit in 2021, it will be timely, exciting for students, and inspiring. I truly cannot wait to attend,” Cody said.
Youth vote in the news 🗞
A 25-year-old from a small town leads North Carolina's Democratic Party toward 2024, Elena Moore and Ximena Bustillo for NPR