Comstock's magazine 0319 - March 2019 - Page 91

grant while campaigning in the district, which has a sizeable Asian-American population. Jessica Millan Patterson was just elected party chair for the California GOP. She says finding candidates like Kim, who truly match the district and can be a “new messenger” for the GOP brand and policies, will be essential as the party moves forward in “super localizing our message when it comes to can- didates.” And women play a fundamental role in that shift. “People want elected office that looks and feels and sounds like they do, and so I think it is important to have more women [elected],” Patterson says. “We think this is an important thing for the Republican Party in California to focus on.” HOW WE GOT HERE The women problem in the California Republican Party hasn’t always been this pronounced. For years, women like Mari- lyn Brewer, an Orange County assemblywoman from 1994 to 2000; Rep. Mary Bono Mack, the state’s sole GOP congress- woman from 1998 to 2013; and former-Rep. Mimi Walters, a fixture in California politics who served two decades in state, local and federal office, were trailblazers and role models for future candidates on the right. In 2010, the party nominated high-profile female candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiori- na for high-stakes gubernatorial and U.S. Senate race. And in 2014, Republicans actually slightly outperformed Democrats when it came to the percentage of women in their respective state legislative caucus. But in recent years, things have gotten worse. Some of the slide is chalked up to broad demographic and political shifts. Experts say the trend is also partly due to the party’s challeng- es to hold on to voters and relevancy in an increasingly blue state. Democrats control all statewide elected offices and hold large majorities in the Legislature and congressional delega- tion, as GOP voter registration plummeted to 25 percent of all registered voters. “There are fewer women in politics than men, and there are far fewer Republicans than Democrats in California in gener- al,” Jessica Levinson, a political commentator and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles says. “It’s really not that shocking. Their numbers are shrinking.” Some argue that Trump’s election has made things even more difficult for the GOP, especially when it comes to female candidates. The party’s troubles in the state are so dire that some former female stars, including Kristin Olsen, a former Assembly leader and county supervisor, are considering leav- ing altogether. In an op-ed published in late 2018, Olsen argued that the California GOP “is dead — partly because it has failed to separate itself from today’s toxic, national brand of Repub- GNT Solutions is proud to support UCP of Sacramento and Northern California in their mission to provide comprehensive services to children and adults with all developmental disabilities and their families. Join us on Thursday, May 16, 2019 from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency to honor Kevin Nagle as UCP’s 2019 Humanitarian of the Year. Contact Alex Kineret, kineret@ucpsacto.org Learn more at gntsolutions.com March 2019 | comstocksmag.com 93