Republicans like what they see in 24-year-old Princeton graduate Ricky Gill, who may just be the secret weapon they need to take out a Democratic congressman in a targeted California district next fall.
“He’s just an absolute rock star,” Mike Shields, the political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C., said of Gill in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Gill is challenging Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney for the 9th Congressional District seat located in the San Joaquin Valley.
He’s not old enough yet to assume office — he will by election day — but he can already boast the support of several prominent Republicans across the country.
South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley campaigned for Gill in November, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will campaign for Gill in January, The Daily Caller has learned.
In a phone interview with TheDC, Gill said, “I acknowledge age is one of the oft discussed features of this campaign, but I bring a unique set of experiences and background that I’m proud to talk about.”
He’s about to graduate from law school at the University of California, Berkeley. Seven years ago, he was appointed to the state board of education in California by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Admittedly I’m young, but this isn’t my first rodeo,” he said.
Gill is a first generation American. His parents were born in India and his father grew up in Uganda. After going to school in Europe, his family landed in the San Joaquin Valley.
“My background is in small business,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in my family’s small business for seven years now. And that is everything from wine grape growing and growing cherries to a few development projects. We’re involved in a trading business too,” Gill said.
He said the unemployment rate in some parts of the district is twice the national average.
“Young people do not return to this community or to this economy because there’s no opportunity here,” he said. “We’ve had total economic stagnation, foreclosures through the roof. There’s a lot of hardship.”
In the interview, Gill spoke intelligently on a myriad of issues. He said he reads often and has the “natural intellectual curiosity that I think should equip most candidates for federal office.”
“The path to victory is talking about the issues,” Gill said.