UMN senior Megan Olson to run as Republican for state House seat

Olson is one of multiple current and former students to make a bid for a seat at the Legislature this year.

Senior Megan Olson poses for a portrait at the Minnesota Daily office on Thursday, Jan. 23.  If her campaign for Minnesota House Seat 57A is successful, Olson hopes to use her position to give back to the Apple Valley schools to which she credits her academic success.

Kamaan Richards

Senior Megan Olson poses for a portrait at the Minnesota Daily office on Thursday, Jan. 23.  If her campaign for Minnesota House Seat 57A is successful, Olson hopes to use her position to give back to the Apple Valley schools to which she credits her academic success.

Mohamed Ibrahim

After mulling over the idea of representing her hometown at the state Capitol, University of Minnesota senior Megan Olson announced her candidacy on Fox and Friends last month. 

The seat in Olson’s home district of Minnesota House District 57A spans parts of Apple Valley and Lakeville. Running on a platform of healthcare, education and empowering small businesses, Olson joins a number of current University students and recent alumni vying for elected state office.

“That’s where I was born, raised and educated,” Olson said. “I thought that this would be the best way that I could give back to the community that raised me.”

If nominated as the Republican candidate in August, Olson looks to challenge DFL incumbent Rep. Robert Bierman in November to represent the district. Olson said she looks forward to balancing being a student and running for political office this semester.

Olson joins junior Austin Berger, candidate for District 45A, and recent graduate Sonia Neculescu, who lost the DFL primary for District 60A, in bids for seats in the Legislature this year. But unlike Berger and Neculescu, Olson is running as a Republican. 

Tiana Meador, University junior and editor-in-chief of conservative campus newspaper The Minnesota Republic, said the number of young candidates running for office is reflective of the current political climate. But younger candidates often run as Democrats in Minnesota, making Olson’s candidacy inspiring to other young conservatives, she said.

“When I saw that she was running for office at such a young age, I have so much respect for that and it’s also very inspirational,” Meador said. “We were talking on our staff about it a little bit and like it almost shows that … younger conservatives can do that.”

During her time at the University, Olson has been politically active, working with the University’s College Republicans chapter and the Minnesota Student Association. She previously wrote for conservative publications Alpha News and Campus Reform.

Olson also served as one of the student members of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, the body of 24 members that advises the Legislature on regent elections.

Fellow RCAC member and House higher education committee chair Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-New Brighton, said young people can bring new insights to government based on current issues facing their demographic.

“There’s a number of issues in young people’s lives that impact them and they are trying to make a difference through policy and politics,” Bernardy said.

While others may see Olson’s lack of experience as a disadvantage, she sees her perspective as an asset going into the party’s caucus and endorsing convention in the coming months, she said.

“There’s a lot that comes with age and experience, but there is something to be said about the unique perspective of young individuals, and our ability to be go-getters and to go out there and go after what we want,” Olson said.