Montana’s Youngest Delegate Has Politics in His Blood

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS – It should come as no surprise that 19-year-old Raphael Graybill of Great Falls is Montana’s youngest Democratic National Convention delegate.

His father, Turner Graybill, held the same honor in 1972, also at age 19.

The younger Graybill, a Great Falls High graduate and Barack Obama supporter, is one of four Great Falls residents who were picked to be DNC delegates by the state Democratic Party. The convention opens Monday in Denver.

To become a delegate, Graybill said he first had to run at the county level, where he was one of eight successful candidates. At the state election, he faced “10 or 15” opponents for the eastern Montana male delegate spot.

How did he campaign? “You do what any good, young politician does: You shake hands and meet lots of people,” Graybill said.

Graybill said members of the national media have interviewed him several times since he was chosen and always ask about the issues facing young Americans. He said they’re the same issues facing all Americans.

For example, he said his generation will be required to pay off the national debt, just like previous and future generations. Young Americans also are affected by the war in Iraq, he said.

Graybill added he believes in Obama because the Democratic presidential candidate reflects his concerns.

“It’s important in a candidate — not only to mirror your values, but (be) someone you know will be a strong advocate for them,” he said.

He said Montana and other states need help creating jobs and opportunities so that young people who leave for college or other reasons can return and get good jobs.

“I’m not convinced that John McCain’s short-term tax cuts are the answer for me and my friends to come back to Montana,” he said.