Campaigning for his post as president of the Young Democrats of America, Chris Gallaway heard the question often.
"Most of them would say, 'There aren't any Democrats in Kansas; where did you come from?" the Lawrence resident recalled.
But Gallaway answered that Democrats in Kansas "are experienced in dealing with uphill battles." Of the state's registered voters, roughly 46 percent are Republicans, 28 percent are Democrats and 26 percent are unaffiliated.
Plus, he said, many of the 800 delegates at the organization's biennial national convention in Buffalo, N.Y., were excited by the success of Democrats in Kansas, such as the election last year of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, and the re-election to a third term of U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, whose district includes eastern Lawrence.
In mid-August, Gallaway, 26, was elected president of the 43,000-member organization. He is the first Kansan president of the Young Democrats of America in the group's 71-year history.
Gallaway grew up in the small town of Dwight, just south of Manhattan, and has lived in Lawrence since 1995.
He said his father was apolitical and his mother a Republican.
When Gallaway arrived at Kansas University, he was bitten by the political bug and became a Democrat.
He got involved in the Young Democrats, and served as KU chapter president from 1997 to 1998 and state president from 1998 to 2001.
Through a KU internship program, Gallaway worked for state Rep. Rocky Nichols, a Democrat from Topeka.
Gallaway didn't finish his college degree; instead he went to work for the Kansas Democratic Party, where he has served in various jobs, including executive director. His wife, Allison, formerly worked for the Democratic legislative leaders in the House.
State Democratic Party Chairman Larry Gates said he was proud of Gallaway's rise to the national level within the Young Democrats.
"Chris has long been an advocate for young people, and he will do an outstanding job in his new role," he said.
Gallaway said he was looking forward to getting more young people registered and voting Democratic.
"We have found over the last two election cycles young people are more likely to go to the polls if young people ask them to," he said.
Galloway's position allows him to serve on the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee and as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.