Maxwell Frost wins Florida race, becomes 1st Generation Z member of Congress

Florida House candidate Maxwell Frost won his race on Tuesday, becoming the first Generation Z member of Congress, the Associated Press projected.

Frost will represent the state’s 10th Congressional District, which includes Orlando, in the House. He’ll succeed Rep. Val Demings, who tried unsuccessfully to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

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“History was made tonight,” Frost said on Twitter, after the AP and multiple news outlets projected him as the winner. “We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to represent my home in the United States Congress.”

In an interview with Yahoo News on Monday, the 25-year-old Democrat and gun control activist said he would be starting his last day of campaigning on Election Day with a 4 a.m. wake-up call, getting out early to knock on doors and encourage people to get to the polls.

Unlike many candidates, Frost didn’t know politics would be a part of his future, until supporters that he protested with during the Black Lives Matter uprising in 2020 asked him to get on the ballot.

A phone call with his biological mother gave him the final push he needed to run for office, he told Yahoo News in August. “I hung up the phone, and I said I need to run for Congress for people like my biological mother, for people like my mother, for people like my father, for my community, for the place that I was born and raised,” he said.

In August of 2021, Frost quit his job as the national organizing director of March for Our Lives and started his campaign. Now, he is headed to Washington, D.C., after beating Republican opponent Calvin Wimbish.

Maxwell Frost walks in a parade.
Maxwell Frost at the Pride Parade in Orlando on Oct. 15. (Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)

“My mom came here from Cuba when she was young with nothing. And now her son is going to go to Congress,” Frost told Yahoo News in August.

In a statement on Friday, Demings expressed her support for Frost. “I’m proud to support Maxwell Alejandro Frost for Congress because he’s going to continue to fight to end gun violence, take on our housing crisis, bring down rising costs, and continue to be the bold leader Central Florida needs in D.C.”

Ahead of Election Day, Frost was confident about his race but said that other contests throughout the Sunshine State were getting too close for comfort.

“Turnout is relatively low right now, actually, in general. And we have a lot of work to do on making sure that [it’s] better in future elections,” Frost told Yahoo News on Monday.

Maxwell Frost speaks into a microphone.
Frost at a rally held by the Latino Victory Fund on Oct. 20 in Coral Gables, Fla. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Experts say presidential elections in Florida typically have a higher turnout than midterm elections. “Nationally, voter turnout is up for a midterm election. So it looks like we’re going to beat the last two midterm elections [in] 2014 and 2018. But that is not true in Florida; Florida’s early vote numbers are low,” Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, professor of law at Stetson University, said.

The progressive candidate’s campaign raised millions of dollars to help Frost secure the Democratic nomination in the primary and win the election. OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks campaign spending, found that “over half of the contributions Frost’s campaign has received this election cycle — $1.4 million — has come from individual donors contributing less than $200.”

Frost leaned on Latino and Generation Z voters to win his race. While Latinos make up 20% of the U.S. population, they make up only 1% of political power, according to Latino Victory, a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing political power in the Latino community.

“And that’s not a representative democracy. So we’re trying to change that in reality,” Nathalie Rayes, president of Latino Victory, told Yahoo News.

But Rayes says there has been a shift, as four Democratic Latino lawmakers hold a seat in the Senate, and now Frost will be added to that list as a new member of the House.

“He’ll be the first Gen Z to ever serve in Congress, and the third Afro-Latino to ever serve in Congress. And, we need that energy,” Rayes said. “We need young people in elected office. Maxwell is a hardworking, dedicated leader who will bring renewed energy to fight for his district in Washington, D.C.,” she added.

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Frost plans to focus on issues such as climate change and affordable housing. But as a survivor of gun violence and a resident of a state that has been the site of mass shootings like those at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, that particular issue is first on his list.

“Gun violence is an issue that touches almost every community,” Frost told Yahoo News in August. “We need more advocates and vocal champions in Congress that are going to fight to end this problem.”

While Frost says he’s excited and ready to make an impact in D.C., he realizes that he can’t do it alone. “There’s no savior, there’s not one politician that’s going to fix it. It has to be about a movement, a movement on the streets and a movement at the ballot box. I just want people to know that for us to effect the change that we need, [that] we want and that we deserve, we need to elect a movement of people.”