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College junior beats 10-term incumbent in North Carolina primary

(NewsNation) — A 21-year-old college junior defeated a 10-term incumbent in the Republican primary for a North Carolina state House seat.

Wyatt Gable, a student at East Carolina University, edged out 84-year-old Rep. George Cleveland in the recent primary election.

In a Monday interview on NewsNation’s “On Balance,” Gable said he decided to run for office because of his frustrations over COVID-19 policies during his senior year of high school and first year of college, which he viewed as being about “control.”

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Gable acknowledged being young for the state legislature but pointed out the Founding Fathers were around his age when the country was established. He criticized the experience of leaders in the White House, saying it “hasn’t really gotten us anywhere.”

While acknowledging fiscal issues will be important for his generation long-term, Gable said cultural issues like bathroom policies, gun rights and immigration are currently critical matters he wants to address. He stressed the need to teach America’s full history to avoid “repeating” past flaws.

“A big thing I want to focus on is education. We’ve gotten away from the idea of in our education system about teaching history and why America is what it is … it’s so important to teach everyone the good the bad and everything, because we have flaws, but as a country, we are the best there is, and there’s no denying that,” Gable said.

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Gable expressed interest in potentially seeking higher offices, such as governor or U.S. senator, in the future, saying he doesn’t want to become ensconced in one seat for decades like his former opponent.

Cleveland, a former Marine Corps drill instructor, lost narrowly to Gable, who leads the ECU chapter of Turning Point USA, an activist group for young conservatives. Gable’s campaign website says he would work to lower taxes, renew home economics classes in public schools and improve health care facilities.

The state House seat is considered a Republican stronghold, making Gable the favorite in the November general election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.