Progressives around here are pretty excited as The Squad, darlings of the Democratic left wing, prepare to take the stage at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday.
While members of The Squad are committed to getting more young women elected to office, none of the young congresswomen who make up The Squad will be heading north on I-93 to stump for the candidate poised to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
That’s because that woman is Karoline Leavitt, a New Hampshire Republican and hard-core Trumper, The Squad’s worst nightmare.
How far right is Karoline Leavitt?
She wants no limits on gun ownership. She wants to finish the wall her hero, Donald Trump, started. She believes Trump won the 2020 presidential election. She wants the government off your back, unless you’re a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. In that case, she wants the government in charge. She asserts that “cultural Marxism is making its way through every institution in America.”
If Leavitt were any further to the right, she’d be somewhere in the North Atlantic.
She’s Marjorie Taylor Greene with duck boots.
She’s Lauren Boebert without the AK-47.
Actually, Boebert showed up at a Leavitt campaign event, a night of shooting at a gun club in Litchfield, N.H.
Leavitt’s candidacy was improbable from the get-go. She was too young. She had no money. She had no name recognition.
But she is running pretty close to Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas in recent polls. If she manages to improbably knock him off in November, the way Ayanna Pressley improbably knocked off Mike Capuano in Massachusetts, the way Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez improbably knocked off Joe Crowley in New York, she will join Boebert and Taylor Greene as The Anti-Squad, election-denying, MAGA flag-waving members of Congress.
Leavitt is already a darling on Fox News, and if she manages to get elected to Congress, she will break the hold Democrats in New Hampshire have on seats in the House and Senate and become the face of the Gen Z far right.
She turned 25, the minimum age to sit in Congress, just last month. She was just 23, not long out of St. Anselm’s, when she was hired as an assistant press secretary in the Trump administration. In that capacity, she says, she “fought against the biased mainstream media.”
Leavitt grew up in Atkinson, N.H., on the Massachusetts border, and went to Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, which her Republican opponents preposterously tried to paint as something like Phillips Academy in Andover.
George W. Bush and his father were among the Republican bigshots who went to Phillips, and Leavitt wouldn’t be caught dead with the Bushes or their crowd.
She dismisses “establishment Republicans” as creatures of The Swamp. To Trumpers like Leavitt, The Swamp is just as bad as The Squad.
Her stunning, unexpected success in the primary has raised questions about what constitutes an establishment Republican these days. Her main opponent was Matt Mowers, a MAGA 33-year-old State Department staffer in the Trump administration who lost to Pappas by a mere 5 points two years ago.
Defending Main Street, a super PAC that backs moderate Republicans, spent more than $1 million on ads attacking Leavitt, dismissing her as an immature Gen Zer who is always on her phone and making videos, including one in which she greeted friends saying, “Listen up, hoe bags.”
Trump didn’t endorse her but cheered her primary victory on his social media platform.
Sometimes she betrays her age, as when she called Trump “the greatest president in the history of my life.” Not exactly high praise when you consider there have only been five in her lifetime.
Leavitt got a little over a third of the votes in a crowded primary with nine candidates. Former senator Scott Brown’s wife, former WCVB reporter Gail Huff Brown, finished third as a pro-choice conservative.
To beat Pappas, Leavitt will need enough moderates and independents who aren’t scared off by her enthusiasm for Trump.
If she wins, get used to hearing a lot from her.
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.