Rachel Gonzalez has been out on the campaign trail for months.
She went to Iowa several times in advance of that state’s caucuses in February, working to turn out Democrats in favor of Hillary Clinton. At one point, she says, she met a wavering voter at a restaurant and convinced her to caucus – for Clinton. Then Rachel, a junior at William Chrisman High School in Independence, worked to turn out the vote here in Missouri.
Now she will be Missouri’s youngest delegate ever sent to a Democratic National Convention. She’s 17, and she’s going to Philadelphia in late July as a Clinton delegate. She’s also going to the state convention in June.
How did get that job?
“I did a lot of campaigning,” she said.
Missouri’s primary was in mid-March, and Democrats in the 5th Congressional District met last week in Higginsville to select actual delegates. Rachel was among 15 people in the running for two female spots.
“I told them, first of all, of what I’ve been doing for the campaign,” she said.
And then she just told them her story. In 2008, when she was 9, she met Bill Clinton when he came to town to campaign for his wife. Something clicked for Rachel, and she knew she had found her calling.
She started a countdown calendar – 3,182 days until she could vote. It’s down to 165 days. She’s already registered to vote, as one can do in Missouri if you’re 18 by election day.
“And I told them that story, and that just closed it,” she said.
She has plans. After high school, she intends to major in both political science and criminal justice at Truman State University, then earn a law degree, then come home and run for the Missouri House in the 29th District in Independence.
But first, there’s an election to win this year, and Rachel is clear on her choice.
“She’s not only the most qualified on our side,” she said, “she’s the most qualified of all of them.”