Nearly 100 young libertarian activists piled into O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub just outside Washington, D.C. Tuesday for the bar’s weekly karaoke night.
These young libertarians have been gathering in the Arlington, Va., bar each week for about two years now — but last night was different.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) was in attendance.
“The dude walks in with a zipper up jacket, zipped up past his chin, hand in his pocket, like he had been there a hundred times,” attendee Peter Ildefonso, 25, told TheBlaze. “If I didn’t know exactly who he was, I would have just thought he was a karaoke regular. [He] walks in the back and just starts talking to people.”
Months ago, Matthew Hurtt, a well-known player in D.C. libertarian political circle, had made the decision to use the the weekly karaoke gatherings to raise money for one of the movement’s elected officials.
“We have a pretty dedicated group of young liberty activists who attend karaoke regularly on Tuesday nights at this particular venue,” Hurtt told TheBlaze. “The idea sprang from that because I knew those folks would be willing to donate to someone like Congressman Amash.”
After hatching the plan, Hurtt says the event snowballed beyond his expectations and ultimately raised $6,630 for Amash’s 2014 reelection campaign. Each person that attended Tuesday’s event was required to donate at least $35 to Amash’s campaign.
“I had no idea it would take off like it did,” he said. “We really have a great group of young people who want to advance liberty, and I’m proud of everyone’s effort.”
The 25-year-old said young people like himself are very attracted to Amash.
“He’s a young guy; he’s accessible and accountable through Twitter and Facebook,” Hurtt said. “And he’s been a strong voice on those issues that are important to young people. I think young people are jaded by the failures of big government, and they’re looking for someone who will be honest with them and be principled. Amash is one of the few who does that.”
The event’s attendees seemed to agree.
“This was the first time I have spoken with a congressman who is down to earth and is really wanting to change things and is looking out for our generation so that we are not burdened with big government interfering in our lives,” attendee Carmela Martinez, 25, told TheBlaze.
Mike Armstrong, 25, who works with young conservatives at a nearby political non-profit and also attended Tuesday’s event echoed that sentiment.
“Amash appeals to young people more than most Republicans because he represents a new wave of the Republican Party,” he said. “He is a diversion from ‘business as usual’ in Washington that has plagued young people with trillions in debt, a bleak economic outlook, and over-controlling government.”
According to multiple attendees, Amash made his way around the bar speaking with individuals about politics, pop culture, among other things.
The congressman told TheBlaze in a statement Wednesday he was energized by the young crowd.
“I am thrilled that so many young people support my work in Congress and my reelection campaign,” Amash said. “If Republicans want to be the majority party in Washington, we have to do a better job of attracting people of all ages and from all backgrounds.”
“I thank all of the young people who organized the event,” he continued. “It means so much to me that so many young people dug deep and donated what they could to help my campaign. Their energy and their support will help us bring home a big win next August.”
Hurtt now says he plans to use karaoke night to host more fundraisers for other candidates and is actively seeking someone like Amash to help next.
“We’re trying to shoot for a bigger race,” he said. “Maybe a senate race. And I want to double the amount raised.”
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