For the second Republican National Convention in a row, a Utahn will be the youngest delegate.
This year, it is 18-year-old Steve Densley Jr. of Provo. Four years ago it was then-17-year-old David D. Fowers of Bountiful - who turned 18 before the election and became the youngest person ever to cast a vote in the Electoral College. Fowers was elected a national delegate again this year.Densley said, "I knew it was possible. When I read four years ago that we had the youngest delegate, that's when I got the idea to run this year. Maybe this will help us have the youngest delegate again four years from now."
That fits in with what Densley said is the main reason he became a delegate - to show other young people that they can make a difference.
"Studies show that the age bracket least likely to vote is between ages 18 and 21. They feel like their vote . . . is not important. But they need to realize that policies implemented today will affect them for the rest of their lives," Densley said.
He has learned from personal experience that a young person can make a difference. He already has years of political experience, even though he graduated from Provo High School just last spring and has been attending summer sessions at Brigham Young University - majoring, naturally, in political science.
His work in politics began when his father, Steve Densley Sr., ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd District congressional seat in 1982 and ran two years later for the Legislature.
"I went door-to-door campaigning with him, handed out fliers and went to the conventions. It was able to meet a lot of people. It was exciting and fun," Densley said.
His interest grew. "Last year I was a Senate page for Orrin Hatch. When I came back, I helped organize Teenage Republican clubs in Utah County. They hadn't been active for several years, but we started them up again. Next year, we will have one in every high school."
He said he also started a group called Youth for Liberty. "We did things such as show videos about freedom fighters in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. We even brought in a freedom fighter from Nicaragua and a freedom fighter from Afghanistan to speak."
Then when Densley reached voting age, he ran for and became a county, state and national Republican delegate and the vice chairman of his voting district.
He adds, almost as an afterthought, that he was involved in high school politics - serving as student body vice president at Provo High School - but seems to have more interest in national and international politics.
Densley's status as the youngest Republican delegate has already brought interviews from USA Today and CBS News. But Densley said he has had no word whether the Republicans may recognize him from the podium as the Democrats recognized their youngest and oldest delegates in Atlanta last month.
Densley wants to be more than a spectator at the convention. He even hopes to introduce an amendment to the platform.
"Most of the big issues that the platform deals with - AIDS, abortion, drugs and other social and moral issues - really grow out of weak moral fiber. The best way to combat social issues is not to stop drugs at the border . . . I want to suggest we do something to promote family unity - even something like have families meet together once a week."
Densley, the oldest of six children, said family meetings and discussions about drugs, pre-marital sex and other topics would be more forceful than any government programs to address those issues.
With such plans for action and love of politics, does Densley hope to be a political office holder someday?
"I don't know. I hope to go to law school, and work in law. But I will always be involved in politics. Whether I ever hold office just depends on the way things work out."