- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2022

An organization formed by veteran GOP operatives is seeking to get more Republican women elected to governorships across the country.

Right Direction Women, launched this year, is aiming to flip 16 governors’ mansions this year with an emphasis on female candidates, which the group says has lacked for the party when it comes to the state’s top job.

“We’ve seen a lot of strong women run for office, but so many times they don’t have the resources to break through the clutter,” said Marie Sanderson, co-chairwoman of the organization.

Currently, there are only three female Republican governors — Govs. Kay Ivey of Alabama, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Six Democratic women hold governorships.

Ms. Sanderson, who previously served as policy director of the Republican Governors Association, said she wants to provide support for candidates beyond just money, also to offer advice or mentorship from other women who are either running or have run for office.

The group is also making endorsements.

“When evaluating some really talented candidates across the country running this year, it felt like there was an important need to provide some of these women with some additional help to get them over the finish line in some of these key states,” Ms. Sanderson said.

Several Republican women are running for governor’s seats this year, including former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders in Arkansas, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in Wisconsin and former TV journalist Kari Lake in Arizona.

Alongside Ms. Sanderson, former New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is the organization’s honorary chairwoman and Annie Dickerson serves as co-chair.

Ms. Dickerson founded the Winning for Women Action Fund, which has worked to help elect GOP women for federal office since 2018.

Overall, a total of 45 women have held governorships in U.S. history. Nineteen states have never had a female governor.

There are a total of 36 gubernatorial elections this year, with 16 Democratic seats having the potential to flip. Republicans are defending 20 seats.

In 2018, Democrats were able to flip seven governorships in a year that resulted in a strong pickup year for the then-minority party.

Republicans are going into the midterms bullish, with President Biden facing low approval ratings amid concerns on issues like inflation, crime, and the war in Ukraine.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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