By DAVID GREEN
He was six years old in 2000 when Al Gore faced George W. Bush in the presidential race. He still remembers hearing family discussions about that election.
Even that wasn't really the beginning of his interest in American politics. That started at a younger age yet.
"I remember going to the bookstore and getting some President books," Wyatt said. "We went home and I wanted to read about the Presidents all the time."
By age eight, he already had all the U.S. Presidents memorized, along with some basic biographical information about each.
When the 2004 election rolled around, Wyatt's interest grew. Four years made quite a difference. He was only 10 years old, but he followed the race and he attended a couple of campaign rallies.
"It was in 2008 that I really started to do more," he said. "I was an intern for the Obama campaign and I helped with Mark Schauer's campaign. I was chosen Volunteer of the Month."
Schauer, who served a term in the House of Representatives in a district that included Morenci, would walk into his Battle Creek office and ask Wyatt where they would be campaigning today. The two of them went door-to-door together several times in neighborhoods around Battle Creek.
For a school class project, Wyatt created the Young Democrats Club.
"It started with my interest in the Presidents and it's developed into politics in general," he said.
Wyatt landed a volunteer post for the summer, serving as an intern for State Representative Kate Segal. As staff members headed back to college in the fall, Wyatt was asked to serve as her campaign field organizer—a paid position.
"There are only two members of Kate Segal's staff in Battle Creek," he said, "so I'm pretty lucky. Technically I'm employed with her office, but I also help out with other smaller campaigns such as county commissioner. Several campaigns work together."
He recently planted a political seed that could figure into his future.
"Last week I talked with Debbie Stabenow. I'd really like to work in her office."
The Lakeview High School senior has visited Washington, D.C., three times, including a trip for the 2008 presidential inauguration.
He intends to enroll in Michigan State University's James Madison College, with a focus on public policy issues and international relations. That will give him easy access to the state capitol where he hopes to work as an intern and it should also help in his efforts to land a Washington, D.C., internship later in college.
That, he hopes, will just be the start of a career in politics and perhaps lead to his own attempt at political office.
"I think I would probably start by helping others organize their campaigns," Wyatt said. "I've learned a lot about strategy and targeting voters."
Actually, Wyatt recently survived an election of his own. He is a four-year member of the Michigan Youth in Government organization and he was the southwest district candidate for Speaker of the House. The 800 members of the organization elected him the Speaker to serve at the group’s conference in March.
Youth in Government (YIG) members have the opportunity to meet in legislative chambers of the state capitol in Lansing where scaled-down versions of actual sessions are conducted. Committees meet, proposals are debated, and bills are "signed into law."
When YIG students get together, they attend workshops on topics including bill writing, public speaking, national issues and political strategies. That's probably enough to send a typical high school student running for the door, but for a political junkie like Wyatt Ludman, that's what makes life interesting.
• Wyatt is the son of Kirk Ludman of Morenci and Becky Gilbert of Battle Creek.