Republican State Leadership Committee Announces Right Women, Right Now Leadership Team

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Evette, Wyman, Upmeyer, Fajardo, Hewitt, and Neu to serve as co-chairs

WASHINGTON – The Republican State Leadership Committee’s Right Women, Right Now initiative, announced today its leadership team for the 2020 election cycle. The mission of Right Women, Right Now is to identify, recruit, train, and support female candidates in the states in order to help elect more Republican leaders who better embody the people they represent. The co-chairs will be South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, former Iowa Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, New Mexico state Representative Kelly Fajardo, Louisiana Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt, and Minnesota state Representative Anne Neu. The board members include Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, Virginia state Senator Jen Kiggans, Hawaii state Representative Val Okimoto, and Florida state Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez.

“Republican women have made great strides, but there is more work to be done in order to get more conservative women elected,” said South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette. “Our country is ready to have more female voices advocating for policies that work for the American people. I am excited and eager to help make sure the best candidates are elected in the states.”

“Republican women must have representation and a voice across our country,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I am proud to stand alongside the RSLC as they work to support and invest in strong, qualified women in every state, and I look forward to working together to get more of our leaders elected to public office.” 

“Women across the country are tired of being told what political party they are supposed to belong to,” said Former Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer. “Despite negative rhetoric, conservative women are clearing a path for a stronger and better America. We are proud to stand up for what we believe in, and I am confident in our ability to recruit and support many more women for generations to come.”

“Female leaders of tomorrow are on the rise in the Republican Party,” said New Mexico Representative Kelly Fajardo. “We are fighting for tax cuts, job creation, better schools, and issues that matter most to families. I look forward to working with this distinguished group of leaders to make sure the right women are elected in the states.”

“Our states need the voices of women, not because we are females, but because we are leaders with proven results,” said Louisiana Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt. “Through the efforts of Right Women, Right Now, we are ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table. It is an honor to work with so many strong women from across the country, and we look forward to seeing positive outcomes this year and for many years to come.”

Since 2012, the RSLC’s Right Women, Right Now and Future Majority Project initiatives have invested more than $28 million to elect female and candidates of diversity to state level office in all fifty states with over $700,000 spent in the 2019 odd-year election. The RSLC has helped elect over 670 new female legislators into office.

“Our outstanding Republican women are the closest reflection of the communities they serve,” said Austin Chambers, RSLC President. “The more conservative women feel empowered and encouraged to run, the stronger our country and our Party will be moving forward. We’re excited to help fuel the growth of female Republican leaders in 2020 and beyond. Our leadership team — and our first-in-class political team — are ready to get to work.”

“The roll out of our new leadership team is part of our continued effort to integrate our Right Women, Right Now initiative into the political day-to-day decisions we make,” said Edith Jorge-Tuñón, RSLC Political Director. “Additionally, this creates a bench of elected leadership who will serve as mentors to candidates who are looking to learn from women who paved the way before them. This mission is not only important for 2020, it’s a personal mission to make sure future generations of women have better representation in our state capitals.”

South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette was elected as the 93rd Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on November 6, 2018. Prior to her election as the first female republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Evette founded Quality Business Solutions, Inc. (QBS), a payroll, human resources, and benefits services firm headquartered in Travelers Rest. A trained accountant and former CFO, with many years serving in a financial capacity at a wide range of organizations, Evette has demonstrated a keen focus on driving customer growth and a deep understanding of the regulatory issues and challenges facing small and medium sized businesses. Evette and her husband David, COO of QBS, attend Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors. The Evettes have three children, Amanda, 22, Joseph, 20, and Jackson, 11.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is Washington’s 15th Secretary of State. First elected in 2012, she is serving her second term and is only the second female Secretary of State in Washington’s history. Prior to being elected to this office, Kim served as Thurston County Elections Director for nearly a decade and was elected Thurston County Auditor from 2001-2013. Secretary Wyman’s responsibilities include overseeing elections, corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, the Washington State Archives, and a number of special programs including the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by public employees, the Address Confidentiality Program to protect survivors of domestic violence and stalking, and Legacy Washington, an oral history and exhibit program that tells the state’s most intriguing stories. Kim and her husband, John, came to Washington when he was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis after being stationed in Ansbach, Germany.

Former Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer was first elected to the Iowa House in 2002 and chose not to seek reelection in 2020. She is the first female speaker in Iowa’s history. Upmeyer grew up in Garner on the family farm, graduating from Garner High School in 1970. She attended North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) and the University of Iowa, receiving her BSN. She also received her Master’s in Nursing from Drake University (Summa Cum Laude).  She is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Linda married her husband, Doug, in 1970. Together they have five children: Sara, Chad, Matt, Blake, and Tyler. Linda and Doug have four grandsons, Colin, Carter, Cooper, and Nolan and one granddaughter, Claire.

New Mexico Representative Kelly Fajardo was born and raised in New Mexico and was first elected to represent District 7 at the New Mexico Legislature in 2012. In November 2014, she was voted into leadership by her colleagues and served as caucus chair for the House Republicans. During Fajardo’s time as a legislator her main focus has been on New Mexico families and working with the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) bringing the first ever Child Advocacy Center to Valencia County. Rep. Fajardo currently sits on the House Commerce and Economic Development as well as the House Local Government and Cultural Affairs Committees. Representative Fajardo also serves on the Cyber Security Task Force for the National Association of State Legislators as well as co-chair of the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce.  Rep. Fajardo was recognized in 2017 by the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for her work with children and in trying to reform New Mexico’s Capital Outlay Reform system. In 2018 she received the Women of Influence Award by Albuquerque Business First. As a small business owner and mother to 3 boys, Representative Fajardo has made protecting our children and improving the lives of those in her district as her top priority. 

Louisiana Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt came to the Louisiana State Senate as a recognized civic and community leader with decades of volunteer service to area children and families, and is the first female Republican Senate Majority Leader in Louisiana history. As an engineering executive, Senator Hewitt managed major deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico for Shell and earned a reputation as a passionate, committed problem solver. As a state senator, Hewitt has focused her efforts on stabilizing the state budget, improving education, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, advocating for families, and restoring Louisiana’s coast. Senator Hewitt married her husband, Stan, over 30 years ago and they have proudly raised two sons, Chris and Brad.

Minnesota Representative Anne Neu was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in a special election in 2017. Prior to her election to the Minnesota House, Neu was the Executive Director of the House Republican Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of the Minnesota House Republican Caucus. During her tenure as Executive Director, House Republicans recaptured the majority by picking up 11 seats in 2014, and expanded their majority to a historic high in 2016, setting a modern day record for most House seats held by Republicans following a Presidential election cycle. Neu also managed the 2010 campaign for former Congressman Chip Cravaack, stunning the political world and defeating a forty-year Democrat incumbent, a race that changed the political trajectory of Minnesota’s Iron Range. She also serves as Vice President of Minnesota Excellence in Public Service Series (MEPS), which provides political leadership training to Republican women. Neu was re-elected to her first full term in 2018 and appointed to serve as the House Deputy Republican Leader for the 2019-20 Biennium. She currently serves on the Health and Human Services Policy Division, the Subcommittee on Elections, and the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration. Anne is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She lives in North Branch with her five children, where she previously served on the North Branch Planning Commission. 

Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She was elected as the state’s first female Hispanic Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Nuñez previously served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018 and was Speaker Pro Tempore from 2016 to 2018. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations and her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida International University. Currently, Nuñez serves as Co-Chair of Latinos for Trump. Nuñez also serves as the vice chair of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association.

Virginia Senator Jen Kiggans is former Navy pilot and nurse practitioner who ran and won as a political outsider for Virginia’s 7th Senate district seat in 2019. After earning a degree from Boston University in International Relations, Jen stepped up to serve her country in the United States Navy. Jen served for ten years as a helicopter pilot flying H-46 and H-3 helicopters, completing two deployments to the Persian Gulf. Her husband is a retired F-18 pilot who retired after 20 years as a Naval aviator. Jen is currently a board-certified Adult-Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and graduate of Old Dominion University’s Nursing School and Vanderbilt University’s Nurse Practitioner program. When she is not at EVMS, she serves as a primary care provider for a small private practice. Jen is a passionate advocate for accessibility and affordability of mental health care and mental health screening.

Hawaii Representative Val Okimoto was elected to the state House of Representatives on November 6, 2018. She represents the residents of District 36. Representative Okimoto was born in Lihu’e, Kaua’i, was a scholar athlete, and graduated with honors from Kaua’i High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in business management with honors from Brigham Young University of Hawai’i, and obtained her special education teacher certification at Chaminade University of Honolulu. Rep. Okimoto is a strong advocate for family values, her community and serving others. She has been a resident of Mililani for over 16 years, and loves the schools, the safe community, and extracurricular activities and opportunities for her daughters.

Florida Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez is the Republican candidate for Florida State Senate District 39.  She currently serves as a state legislator in the Florida House of Representatives. Born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents, Ana Maria knows the danger of communist and socialist governments.  That’s why she has been outspoken about the need to stop the spread of socialism in American politics. As a State Representative, Ana Maria has worked on many issues that are important to improving the quality of life for all South Floridians.  And, as the mother of school age children, Ana Maria has supported record funding for the public-school system and as well as school choice policies that empower parents to make decisions about their children’s education. She has fought to strengthen the economy and job market by keeping taxes low and reducing burdensome government relations that make it harder for businesses to create new well-paying jobs. Additionally, she has sponsored legislation has to make healthcare more affordable and accessible and supported legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Her husband, Dr. Clemente Canabal, is a native of Cartagena, Colombia.  They live in Miami-Dade County with their two sons, Hermes and Eros.