“I think it’s great,” said Draim, who learned that he had the distinction when a national party official called with the news a few weeks ago.
“The reason I ran [for delegate] in the first place was to represent young Americans. I’m happy to be going down to Tampa and bringing voice to what I consider an under-represented group, which is American students,” Draim said.
Draim, who will turn 18 on Sept. 14, was one of seven people who competed for three delegate slots from Virginia’s 8th Congressional District in May. He was the top vote-getter among the bunch, defeating Arlington County Republican Committee Chairman Charles Hokanson, among others.
Draim pulled off the victory with an outreach effort that would have tested even teenage tolerance for telephone time.
“I pretty much called almost all 700 people who were registered to vote in the convention,” he said.
He also made appeals in person at Republican club meetings, all while juggling Advanced Placement biology, economics, U.S. history, the swim team, the debate team and other activities at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, where he is entering his senior year.
“Almost every night of the week, I’d finish school, do whatever after-school activities I had and to go to tea party gatherings, local Republican meetings,” he said. “It was quite a process.”
Hokanson, who said he got a late start on his campaign, tips his hat to the whippersnapper who bested him.
“He earned that delegate seat the old-fashioned way: He worked for it,” Hokanson said. “He was calling people. He was going to every meeting every night. He was all over Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax.”
He has hardly slowed down since, continuing to attend Republican club meetings in addition to going door-to-door for the GOP ticket. He’s helping former Republican senator and governor George Allen’s Senate race against former Democratic governor Timothy M. Kaine, serving as chairman of Young Ambassadors for Allen.
Draim has never attended a national political convention, but he’s a veteran of two state GOP conventions. The first was in 2009, when Gov. Robert F. McDonnell was nominated, and the second was a smaller gathering this year to decide party issues.
His father took him to the 2009 convention. That fact could lead someone to conclude that Draim is the offspring of politically active parents who dragged him to bull roasts and shad plankings since he was in diapers.
In fact, it’s the other way around.
Draim’s father, a legal malpractice defense lawyer, took him to the state convention in Richmond three years ago, but at the behest of the teenager, who was too young to drive.