The California Republican Party on Sunday selected new leader Patterson focused on nuts-and-bolts organizing and raising money over two rivals.
Jessica Patterson, who previously led a candidate recruitment and training program, won support from just more than 1,200 of the party’s most dedicated backers to win the chairmanship.
She’ll now be tasked with leading the party into 2020 after stinging defeats in November 2018. The party now holds just seven of the state’s 53 U.S. House seats and less than a quarter of all seats in the state Legislature.
“Today we are starting the next chapter in our party’s history,” Patterson said. “Our success will be a team effort, no egos, no personal agenda, no drama. We’re going to be about one thing: Winning.”
The vote for chair was the highlight of a three-day convention that featured speeches from prominent Republicans, tables of Trump-themed memorabilia and debates over how to best lead the party forward. Patterson, the first Latina to hold the chairmanship, took over immediately following the vote.
The convention was being held just blocks from the Democrat-dominated state Capitol, a clear reminder of how much the Republican Party’s power has diminished in Sacramento.
Patterson defeated Travis Allen, a former state lawmaker and unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2018, and Steve Frank, a longtime party activist. She announced they’ll lead a new task force on voter registration, an issue both discussed in their campaigns.
The race had focused on who has the superior organization and fundraising skills needed to run the party and who is the strongest backer of President Donald Trump.
Allen and Frank painted themselves as candidates with fingers on the pulse of the party’s grassroots. They said consultants and members of the so-called establishment have led the party into decline.
Patterson, meanwhile, cast herself as the candidate with the relationships and know-how to raise money and bring the party’s message into new corners of the deeply Democratic state.
Her backers said she was far better poised to do the grunt work necessary of being party chair, such as maintaining relationships with donors.
“I think Jessica can do the job I don’t think the other two can,” said state Assemblyman Chad Mayes. “The role of the chair is not to give big soaring speeches to adoring crowds. The role of the chair is to do the hard work.”
Although her opponents painted her as the candidate of the party’s “Never Trump” wing, Patterson also had the backing of some of Trump’s top California supporters, including two Republican National Committee members and U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.