Vincent Harris, 26-year-old GOP digital savant, wheels his black 2014 BMW 381 away from the curb of my Austin hotel, Lana Del Ray blasting on the stereo. We’re on our way from Austin to Waco so he can teach a political science class at Baylor University—his alma mater—and he’s explaining the complexities of his personality, the ones that have made him a very rare creature, both coveted and controversial, in the Republican universe. He made his name by making Ted Cruz’s name in his longest-of-long-shots 2012 Senate primary race, as well as by working for a passel of other well-known conservative GOPers. But he presents as a well-heeled Austin hipster, and some of the things that come out of his mouth—he can’t stand Fox News, for instance—make him seem almost ... Democratic. Now Harris is involved in the seemingly oxymoronic activity of coolifying Mitch McConnell. Along the way, he’s issued some very public critiques of the way the rest of the GOP relates to tech, and to millennials.
“People used to call me ‘pastor’ at Baylor because I took my faith so seriously, and then I’d be out a fraternity party,” Harris says of his undergraduate days. “I don’t know if it means I’m a contradiction or that it means I’m a person and you can’t box people in. You can’t box people in based on their views or their religion or anything. I think people are very complicated.”