2024 Election

Jacksonville’s Benjamin Sandlin Running to be Florida’s Youngest Ever Legislator


The record for youngest person ever elected to the state legislature may soon change. At least it will if Jacksonville native Benjamin Sandlin gets his way. Sandlin, a 20-year-old Democratic candidate, is running for the District 12 seat in Florida’s state House of Representatives. He’d be the youngest legislator in state history, a year younger than Amber Mariano was when she was elected.

Sandlin is set to face off against Wyman Duggan, the incumbent representative who’s served since 2018. He’s the only challenger filed with the state so far, in any party, to go against Duggan, a Republican. There’s a 35-year age gap between the two candidates, pitting not just opposing parties against one another but two different generations. If elected, Sandlin would be among the first wave of Gen-Z politicians to assume elected office in Florida.

The prospects of Sandlin unseating Duggan are uncertain for multiple reasons. For one, there was no challenger and therefore no election in 2022, and so Duggan’s most recent election results will be four years old. In the two elections Duggan has been in, he’s won with 50.9% in 2018 and 53.8% in 2020. Those numbers suggest he isn’t entirely invulnerable. He was also redistricted in 2022, and we’ve yet to see an election with these current bounds.

Perhaps Duggan’s most notable legislative achievement was the passing of a bill he sponsored to abolish civilian police review boards, drawing a mixed reception from both advocates and watchdogs of the state’s law enforcement agencies. According to their state filings, Duggan has logged $94,650 in campaign contributions against Sandlin’s $740. Out of that, $65 has been Sandlin’s own money. Still, he’s not deterred by the David-and-Goliath nature of his race.

“The legislature isn’t gonna wait for me to get older,” Sandlin said in comments reported by FloridaPolitics. “They haven’t waited for me to get older to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ in schools, to demonize students, demonize public school teachers. They haven’t waited until I’m older to gut the public school system in favor of private school vouchers. They haven’t waited until older to crack down on voting rights.”

Aside from running for office, Sandlin says on his campaign website that he works as an assistant preschool teacher at The Episcopal Church of Good Shepherd. He attends the University of Central Florida studying political science, and has served on the student body senate there. His platform includes blocking corporations from buying residential properties, increasing funding into renewable energy development, and reforming jails and prisons with a focus on rehabilitation.