He survived thethat claimed 17 lives in 2018. Five years later, former student-turned-activist David Hogg says he wants to use his advocacy to get more young people into political office.
"Obviously, what happened in Parkland to me and my classmates is a huge motivator for why I'm doing this work," Hogg told CBS News. "That's what got me involved in politics."
The 23-year-old is launching a new grassroots organization called Leaders We Deserve to help young, progressive candidates around the country get elected to state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.
Hogg founded the group with Kevin Lata, who served as campaign manager for Rep. Maxwell Frost, of Florida, the first Gen Z member of Congress.
"There is a pathway for winning as a young person," Lata said. "We've done it, and we are trying to export that and elect a new generation of young people to office."
According to the group, Gen Z and millennials make up 45% of the electorate, but only hold 21% of state legislature seats. The Leaders We Deserve PAC and SuperPAC will work with 15-30 candidates under the age of 30 in key states such as Florida, Texas and Georgia.
"Whether it's abortion bans, whether it's weakening gun laws, it's not coming from the federal government. It's coming from Tallahassee. It's coming from Austin. It's coming from state capitals around the country," Hogg told CBS News. "This is not just an outside game. You're not just pushing politicians to hold them accountable to their promises and make them better but we also need to have the inside game."
The group, which countsstate representative Justin Jones among its board members, eventually hopes to build a pipeline of young leaders to run for higher state or federal office. It will work with prospective candidates on campaign strategies — everything from fundraising to endorsements.
"When you're first starting out when you're running for office, part of the challenge is you don't really have as much fundraising connections, political connections, just the know-how of the basics of running a campaign," Lata said.
Lata and Hogg worked together on Frost's 2022 congressional campaign. Hogg previously co-founded March for Our Lives, a youth-driven movement that organized one of the largest anti-gun violence protests in Washington following the Parkland massacre.
"There's so many charismatic, brilliant young people that have come from March For Our Lives and have now started running for office, like Maxwell, and there's so many more that I think can come," Hogg said. "That's why I'm doing this, it's to help build that pathway."
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