It was a visit by the Ready for Hillary bus last year to the campus of Claremont McKenna College in Southern California that got Lucas Agnew thinking – Republicans of his generation needed to start getting organized.
Clinton supporters “have a huge presence already, especially on college campuses,” said Agnew, a senior at the college.
So last month, Agnew filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to start Millennials for Jeb, a new super PAC that aims to excite young voters about expected presidential candidacy of the former Florida governor.
“I hope this is the start of a counteraction by millennial Republicans,” he said. “We’re just focusing on Jeb, not trying to saying anything about Hillary.”
The 21-year-old said he does not know Bush or anyone in his political operation, but he admires Bush's approach to education reform and to immigration, particularly his refusal to bend his stances to make them more palatable to conservative GOP primary voters. “I really respect that,” Agnew said.
He admits there is not yet a groundswell of energy about Bush among his peers.
“I think a lot of my friends are like the average millennial and not too politically involved,” said Agnew, a dual major in government and legal studies who is minoring in leadership. “Obviously, people know the last name. The goal is to get people to see past the last name and look at who Jeb Bush is as a candidate.”
The super PAC plans to devote 15 percent of its funds to voter registration and the rest of its resources to an aggressive social media campaign. “Our goal is to create pro-Jeb content with the intent that it goes viral,” he said.
So far, the group pretty much consists of Agnew, who Googled how to set up a super PAC. (“I didn’t realize how easy it was to start one,” he noted.) He used Weebly.com to create a slick Web site that declares: “Jeb is Ready. Are You?”
The Washington state native, who got his start in politics working as the campaign sign coordinator for a mayoral candidate in high school, hired an artist online (“I think someone in India”) to design a graphic for merchandise. The online store is currently selling $20 “Jeb the Thinker” T-shirts and $35 flasks. And Agnew already has received his first donation: $250.
"I don't really have a budget," he said. "We're just hoping to raise as much as we can."