Image Credits: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

On Sunday, Jessica Patterson was elected the new chairman of the California Republican Party. Her election breaks a few glass ceilings, since she is the first female chair, the first Latino chair, and the first Millennial chair. Patterson is a native of Simi Valley, which sits in the northwest corner of the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. She emerged as the winner of the three-way race with 54.6% of the vote, edging out former Huntington Beach Assemblyman Travis Allen and longtime Republican activist Steve Frank.

Patterson has extensive credentials working for the Republican Party in both California and other regions of the U.S. She served as the California Victory Director in 2010 and 2012 for the Republican National Committee as well as the Nevada Victory Director in 2008. She is an alum of several campaigns, including former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial bid, and Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid.

Before being elected to chair the party, Patterson was the executive director of the California Trailblazers, an initiative modeled after the national Young Guns program. The group focuses on identifying, training, and fundraising for Republican candidates in California.

Patterson’s election comes at a crucial crossroads for Republican politics in California. Republicans hold seven of 53 Congressional seats and less than a quarter of state legislative seats. Fewer than 25% of California’s voters are registered as Republicans. Patterson stressed during a candidate’s forum that her top priority will be reaching out to people who have a certain idea of what Republicans look like: “We need to get back into communities. We need to start engaging people. People are not going to re-register as Republican as long as they think that we are one thing.” After her win, Patteson commented, “Let’s serve notice to the Democrats in California that we are back and we are ready to deliver on the Republican comeback.”

In addition to electing Patterson, the state party also elected Taiwanese-American Peter Kuo as Vice Chair, Greg Gandrud as Treasurer, and Randy Berholtz as Secretary, all with their own noteworthy stories. Kuo immigrated to San Jose in 1982 with his parents, Gandrud is openly gay, and Berholtz is a two-time cancer survivor.

Jillian K