Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jason Kander, a 30-something war veteran, will soon take the mantle of the nation's youngest statewide elected official, unseating Tea Party favorite Matt Schultz, the Iowa secretary of state who held the title for two years.
Kander (D), 31, will claim the honorific next month when he is sworn into replace retiring Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D). Schultz (R), 33, has held the title since his 2010 election.
"Every year, more members of my generation are stepping up to take leadership roles in everything from business to science to government," Kander told HuffPost in an email. "I am proud to have the opportunity to do that as Missouri's next secretary of state."
The second-youngest current statewide elected official is Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), another Tea Party favorite. Mandel lost a contentious U.S. Senate race to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) this year.
Kander and Mandel are both from a similar demographic of young elected officials emerging on the national landscape. Both are recent war veterans, with Kander serving in the Army in Afghanistan and Mandel in in the Marines in Iraq. Both also served as state legislators for two terms before moving up to statewide office. Mandel and Kander both touted military experience in their 2012 races, citing their combat boots in commercials.
Kander, a Kansas City resident, entered the secretary of state race a year ago, minutes after Carnahan announced her retirement. He centered his campaign around an economic development message and opposition to voter identification requirements. Kander defeated Republican Shane Schoeller by 30,000 votes in a race marked by a last minute $525,000 infusion by a national GOP group to boost Schoeller's chances.
Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) comes in next on the list being six months older than Mandel. Other statewide elected officials in their 30s are Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), 37; Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) and Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen (D), both 38; and New Mexico Auditor Hector Balderas (D), 39. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), 39, is the only governor under 40. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) is 40.
Several statewide officials are in their early 40s, including North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm (R), 41; Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D), 40; and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley (R), 43. The youngest U.S. senator is Utah Republican Mike Lee, 41. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) is the youngest member of Congress at 31. Schock, a potential 2014 candidate for Illinois governor, will lose the young House member title next month to 29-year-old Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy.
The election also ushered in an under-40 majority on the New Hampshire Executive Council, the New England state's official check on the governor's power. The executive council includes newly elected Democrats Chris Pappas, 32, and Colin Van Ostern, 33. The duo and Republican incumbent Chris Sununu, 37, were elected in districts, not statewide.
Kander said he sees his age giving him a different perspective as secretary of state.
"I think the perspective I will bring to the office will help me better serve and understand all people across the state, and I'm grateful for the tremendous responsibility Missourians have given me," Kander said.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to include Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz as the current youngest statewide elected official.