How Peter Minetos navigates politics as a young Republican

Peter Minetos, Georgia State student talks about being Republican, being an organizer and navigating his life. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

To have shaken the hand of the vice president, the governor, multiple senators and state representatives is certainly something. And it’s something Peter Minetos has done, all by the age of 20.

But how did Minetos make it this far and this fast in the realm of politics?

His career development began early, when he served as his high school’s class president all four years.

In 2017, schools across the nation grappled with their response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and Peter’s was no exception.

Walkouts were staged nationwide, with many students advocating for more gun control. But as a result, administrators faced a dilemma as some schools questioned whether there should be consequences for walking out.

During this time, Minetos experienced what he considers to be one of his proudest moments to this day: developing a solution for his school.

This solution, he believed, would work for all students, regardless of their politics, and for the administrators, who were stuck between enforcing the rules and allowing the peaceful protest.

Minetos organized a memorial that allowed students to pay their respects to the 17 lives lost. At George Walton Comprehensive High School, a student stepped forward to share the name of a victim, until all 17 were recognized.

Afterward, students who wanted to take political action could, with a table set up by Minetos that provided students with the resources to write a letter to their representative requesting action.

While serving as class president, Minetos’ second step forward came the spring of his senior year, when he earned an internship through Congresswoman Karen Handel’s district office.

Just a few months prior in November, Handel faced off against Jon Ossoff in the 2017 special election for the 6th District seat — a race notably remembered as the most expensive U.S. House race in history to that date.

After Handel defeated Ossoff, Minetos had his foot in the door of real politics before even graduating high school. Soon after graduation, as Minetos was planning for college that summer, he received an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

“I was fortunate enough to get offered a position on the team as a field representative,” Minetos said. “It was pretty special to be in that position at such a young age.”

No longer an intern, Minetos was organizing volunteers for door-to-door canvassing, holding phone banking nights and planning campaign events.

While working a parade in the district, Minetos had been contemplating which college he’d attend in the fall when he came across three Georgia State students, Olivia Mitrovich, Maria Almanza and Kylie Harrod, members of the campus chapter of the College Republicans.

“So, I visited Georgia State the next week and was like, ‘OK, this is where I want to go,’” he said.

Minetos found his next career move through his connections with Georgia State’s College Republicans. He filled a vacancy for vice chair of the chapter the same semester he enrolled in classes.

The College Republicans, Minetos said, is an official wing of the Republican National Committee, which is also represented at the state level through the Georgia Republican Party. 

College Republicans — like Teen Age Republicans and Young Republicans — falls into the category of youth organizations for the Republican Party. Each campus operates their own chapter, which reports to the statewide Georgia College Republicans. 

By the end of his first semester in college, Minetos ran for chair of the chapter and won.

But Minetos aimed even higher the following spring. He launched his campaign for state chairman, the highest position in Georgia for College Republicans, which he holds to this day. Because he took on this new role, over all of the Georgia college campuses, he was required to resign from his campus chapter position.

Minetos has crossed paths with some of the highest political figures in the nation, including Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence. 

“It was really neat. He’s second in command,” he said. “It’s not often someone gets to meet the vice president.”

Minetos had been invited by a friend to greet the vice president on the tarmac at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. After snapping a photo with him, Minetos said Pence told him, “That better be on Twitter tonight.”

But Minetos was lucky enough to greet Pence a second time, after stepping out of Air Force Two onto Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

At the state level, he’s met both Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Jeff Duncan, along with Georgia Reps. Drew Ferguson, Tom Graves, Barry Loudermilk and Jody Hice.

Other notable figures include Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

While in Washington, D.C. for the summer, Minetos came across the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., at Trump Tower, after previously meeting him at the University of Georgia.

“Meeting Don Jr. was great. He was high-energy, really sharp guy,” Minetos said.

Minetos is pretty happy with the direction his life is going now, and even though he’s just “riding the wave” for now, he could see his future looking very similar.

“I really enjoy what I’m doing now, so I do see myself somewhere in the realm of politics,” he said.

If he chooses to pursue a career in politics, he sees a position as chief of staff or work in campaign consulting as viable possibilities. 

“Running for office down the road could potentially be something. I never can rule that one out,” Minetos said.

Although he’s made moves in politics, Minetos isn’t studying political science. Instead, he has invested his time in computer science, as a backup if politics doesn’t take him where he hopes.

But if he gets to follow his dreams, whether that’s in the state legislature as a chief of staff or legislative aide, or working up in D.C., there’s one thing he finds himself enjoying.

“I’ve always really liked working policy that positively impacts folks,” Minetos said. “I think it’s something really neat and special to do.”

For someone interested in pursuing politics, it can be hard to know where to start, he said. 

“That can be a challenge if no one has ever pointed you in the right direction,” Minetos said.

To get involved in the political process, he recommends finding where you are on the political spectrum and then reaching out to your county party, Democratic or Republican. 

Minetos says to show up at their meetings and reach out, asking to get involved by helping with campaigns or making phone calls.

“Your county party is connected to your state party and your state party is connected to the [Republican National Committee], so you can really level up and get involved there,” he said.

Just like Minetos did, it’s all about making connections and taking the next step forward, wherever that leads you.

“If you’re a college student, I’d say get involved in your College Republicans or Young Democrats chapter,” he said. “I think that’s really valuable.”

Minetos was recently sworn in as a Student Government Association senator for the Robinson College of Business, but he said the Young Dems and College Republicans play a different role than SGA.

Minetos sees SGA as a chance to practice the legislative process without taking political stances. But with campus political organizations, students can practice political activism by taking stances. 

For Minetos, he finds himself at home in the Republican party, where he believes everyone is encouraged to take risks and follow the American dream.

“The Republican Party is the party of opportunity. It advocates for folks to get up and get into the workforce and really make themselves a productive member of society,” he said. “We believe in the power of the individual. The government doesn’t have to be the one that solves all of the problems.”

Minetos said the biggest problem with the Democratic Party right now is that they are focused on control. He pointed to a few examples from the 2020 presidential candidates: Beto O’Rourke advocating for a gun buyback program, Bernie Sanders planning for government-run healthcare and Elizabeth Warren wanting to “tax and take people’s money.”

Because of this, people on the right feel they are left with no choice, he said, and the Republican Party has what he wants: “Pro-business, pro-life, pro-opportunity.”

“Being an outspoken campus conservative is probably one of the bravest things you can do nowadays on a college campus because of the anti-right rhetoric that professors preach,” Minetos said.

But despite Georgia State being a predominantly liberal campus, Minetos said students have been very understanding.

“[On other campuses,] what happens are the professors that have tenure can never get fired and all they do is preach the left’s rhetoric and create a hostile environment for students to speak out in,” Minetos said. “The students at Georgia State have been very welcoming, which I think is a credit to the environment that [Georgia State University] President [Mark] Becker is trying to build.”

Minetos plans to continue the political path he’s on. As for the success he’s had so far, he has a few people to thank.

“My father has been there for me since day one; he’s been my mentor, adviser and has really shaped the man that I am today, and I could not thank him enough,” he said. “And, of course, the great man above — God.”