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Davis Journal

Republican women lawmakers form action committee

Jun 17, 2021 01:24PM ● By Becky Ginos

Members of the Republican Women Lead Board stand on the Capitol steps during a press conference to announce the PAC’s formation. Courtesy photo

SALT LAKE CITY—All nine Republican female legislators joined together last week at the Capitol to announce the formation of the Republican Women Lead (RWL) Political Action Committee to encourage more conservative women to run for elected office.

“We started it because only 9 percent of Utah legislators are Republican women,” said Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard. “That’s the same as it was in 1995 so we really haven’t progressed. We need better representation than that.”

There is currently only one Republican female representative in the Senate, she said. “Historically there have been only two women in Congress from Utah and two Lieutenant Governors, Olene Walker and now Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. Olene Walker became Governor but she wasn’t elected.”

Ballard said Democrat women make up 20 percent of state legislatures across the country. “When they’re the only representative in the room the issues take a Democrat slant. Republican women see the issues differently on things like abortion, childcare, workforce development, etc. We need more women’s voices and more conservative voices.”

The committee will focus on four core areas, she said. “Recruitment, training, mentoring and helping to fund Republican women running for office. We’ll be targeting open seats and Democrat seats to flip them to Republican.”

An advisory board and the main board will help to accomplish those things, said Ballard. “We have Republican men on the board and they are very supportive, particularly because we are only targeting open seats and we’re not trying to oust them.”

Among those elected posts are mayors, city council members, commissioners and state seats, she said. “For example we can’t back Kendalyn Harris who is running for mayor in Bountiful because it’s not an open seat. We can’t help Becky Edwards either because it’s only at the state level.”

City councils are nonpartisan, Ballard said. “So we’ll go through a process of asking candidates how many years they’ve been in the Republican Party and then give them seed money. Some races are more competitive than others and will need more funding.”

In addition to Ballard, members of the RWL Board include: Senate President Stuart Adams, Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, Sen. Ann Milner, Rep. Cheryl Acton, Rep. Kera Birkeland, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, Rep. Susan Pulsipher, Rep. Candice Pierucci, Rep. Christine Watkins, Eliana White, Daniela Harding, Laurel Price, Chris Kyler, Howard Headlee, Jordan Hess, Stan Lockhart, David Butterfield and Derek Brown.

“We need more conservative women to be involved,” said Ballard. “Almost all Republican women were asked to run. I was asked to run. Women tend to run when they are asked. We’re in various seasons of our lives. When we enter that season we need to ask ‘how can I be involved?’ Whether it’s helping the many or helping the few, we need Republican women to seek out other Republican women to get involved.”

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