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16-year-old running for governor of Kansas

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A 16-year-old boy is running for governor in the state of Kansas. “Even if I don’t come close to winning, [I can] do a lot of good," Jack Bergeson said, "maybe get a lot of people involved, push some maybe unorthodox ideas that otherwise wouldn’t be an issue in the campaign.” (Bill Wechter/AFP/Getty Images)

Though he won't be old enough to vote in the next election, one 16-year-old Kansas boy is already launching his political career.

Jack Bergeson, a junior at The Independent School in Wichita, was passing time searching the internet one day when he came across a fascinating piece of information: even as a 16-year-old, he was eligible to run for governor in his home state of Kansas.

“I was actually sort of just randomly clicking around the internet,” Bergeson told the Kansan. “It said, ‘Kansas and Vermont have no [age limit]’ and I’m like, ‘Wait a minute,’ — I was interested really from the second I read that.”

“I can do a lot of good,” Bergeson said. “Even if I don’t come close to winning, [I can] do a lot of good, maybe get a lot of people involved, push some maybe unorthodox ideas that otherwise wouldn’t be an issue in the campaign.”

Bergeson filed as a Democratic candidate, but told reporters he has also has some conservative and libertarian values interspersed in his platform, like supporting open carry of firearms and legalizing medical marijuana, respectively.

Unique opportunity

"I thought, you know, let's give the people of Kansas a chance," Bergeson told the Kansas City Star. "Let's try something new that has never really been tried anywhere else before."

His running mate, classmate 17-year-old Alexander Cline, is excited about the opportunity to change public perception of his generation.

"When Jack did come to me, that did strike a chord within me about that point of transforming the younger generation, the millennials and centennials, and to a group of politically active people," Cline told the Kansan. "We could do this, in fact. Take advantage of the opportunity."

The next Kansas gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 6, 2018.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who has served as governor since 2011, defeated his last Democratic opponent by almost 4 points. The last time a Democratic governor was elected in Kansas was in 2009, but Bergeson seemed unfazed by the uphill battle.

“We’re giving a different kind of option,” he said.

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