First on CNN: Republican operatives launch new group to elect GOP women governors

The group, called Right Direction Women, aims to elevate GOP women in governor’s mansions across the country at a time when only three are currently occupied by Republican women: Alabama’s Kay Ivey, Kim Reynolds from Iowa and Kristi Noem from South Dakota. .

Chaired by former New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who broke barriers as the first Hispanic female governor in U.S. history, the organization has an executive roster of women who have already recruited and advised elected GOP women. Its national co-chairs, Annie Dickerson and Marie Sanderson, have previously been involved in candidate recruitment — Dickerson as the founder of the Winning for Women Action Fund, which has worked to elect Republican women to federal office since the 2018 cycle. , and Sanderson as former policy director of the Republican Governors Association.

“2022 represents a critical opportunity for Republicans to not only flip the House and Senate, but also elect conservative women as chief executives of their states,” Sanderson said in a statement. “The women we seek to support are talented and qualified, and Right Direction Women is thrilled to be involved in these critically important campaigns.”

People familiar with the effort said the group will jump straight into the 2022 cycle with two upcoming endorsements in Wisconsin and Arkansas, where former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and former White House press secretary of Trump, Sarah Sanders, are participating in their respective primaries. One of the people familiar with the group said it would assess candidates on a case-by-case basis and could endorse both moderate Republican women and ultra-conservative women who embraced former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 elections.

“Ultimately, we are looking for candidates with common sense leadership abilities, policies and positions. As always has been the case, there are districts and states where Trump has always been more popular than he is. ‘others,’ one person said. involved in efforts to elect Republican women, who requested anonymity because they are not directly affiliated with Right Direction Women.

In a statement to CNN, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley praised the band’s desire to “take on the good old boys club across the country.” Haley has no formal role with the band.

“I have personally seen the power of a great team and know that we need to do more to support strong women leaders in their gubernatorial races,” Martinez added in a statement. “Right Direction Women will quickly become a key player in continuing to break glass ceilings for conservative women across the country and I am honored to be a part of it.”

At a time when Republicans seek to reverse the party’s low appeal for college-educated suburban women, the group hopes its efforts to recruit female candidates statewide will buck that trend. by presenting female voters with candidates who are closer and who face many of the same challenges and decisions that are central to those voters’ concerns, particularly around education.

“Women running for office who have school-aged children, it gives them a unique way of relating to voters,” said the person involved in efforts to elect Republican women.

The emergence of Right Direction Women illustrates a change of direction for the Republican Party, whose leaders have often condemned identity politics, as it seeks to diversify and broaden its appeal ahead of this fall’s midterm contests. At a House GOP retreat last month, for example, Republicans gathered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., to discuss a policy plan called “Pledge to America” ​​that they crafted in the purpose of broadening the party’s appeal beyond its predominantly white male base.

“In many ways what we identified was a void in the Republican ecosystem where electing women was just not a priority and for many cycles it was an identified problem, but not a problem. resolved,” said one of the people familiar with the new group.

Yet past efforts by Republicans to add more women to party ranks have not always brought positive results. Two new members of the House GOP caucus — Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — who were elected last cycle in GOP districts — have repeatedly drawn controversy for their offensive comments about minorities and their bitter attacks on fellow legislators.

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