COLUMBIA — Nate Irvin might still be on his parents' health insurance, but his political plans are far above those of the average 25-year-old.
Irvin, who is running as a candidate for the Democratic Party in the 2014 District 4 congressional primary, spoke at the Muleskinners' weekly meeting Friday about his reasons for running, and he answered questions about his campaign plans. He touched on topics such as health care, same-sex marriage, corporate spending and marijuana legalization.
But before he got into politics, the 2012 University of Central Missouri graduate addressed the elephant in the room — his age — right off the bat.
"I'm a little bit of an unconventional candidate," Irvin said. "And you're probably thinking, 'He looked a little taller in the photo.'"
At 25, Irvin just meets the age requirement to run for Congress. He might have been the youngest Democrat at the meeting, but he struck a connection with his older audience by mentioning his grandfather, whom he considers his hero.
Irvin said he wants to represent everyone in Missouri's 4th District, not just the older generation or his own. For him, that includes working with people from both parties to make policy changes that will be best for the public.
"If you're not willing to work with the other half of the country, nothing will come but devastation," Irvin said. "We can't go any further until we address the problem of division."
Irvin is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket in the August primaries, which determine which candidates from individual parties will run in the November election. John Webb is running against incumbent Vicky Hartzler on the Republican ticket. Herschel Young and Randy Langkraehr will be on the Libertarian ticket.
Hartzler was elected as the 4th District representative in November 2010. The district includes Boone County and all or part of 23 other counties.
Though members of the Muleskinners said they were happy to have a candidate opposing Hartzler, some, such as Andrew Twaddle, weren't sure whether Irvin was ready to face the rough roads of the campaign trail.
"I want to see a little fire," Twaddle said after Irvin's talk. "I'm afraid he might be taken apart by people who are vicious by nature."
Carolyn Amparan said that Irvin will have to overcome some challenges but that his youth just might give him an edge.
"I think he'll definitely have enough energy. It takes a lot of energy to run," Amparan said.
Potentially facing an incumbent candidate with a much larger campaign budget, Irvin said he plans to scrap big spending and take an old-fashioned approach. He said he will have volunteers going door-to-door and he will take time to have conversations with voters.
"You can reach more people with a TV, but you can't have a conversation," Irvin said.
He is also using new and affordable technology to get his message out by developing an app that will allow voters to get more information on how his policies would directly effect them.
Although District 4 is largely conservative, Irvin said he is hopeful his party members will show their support.
"I want to ask you to help me, and go with me on this crazy journey," Irvin said. "Maybe I'm idealistic, but I believe that together we can solve these problems."