The Ripon Forum

Volume 53, No. 3

June 2019

Ripon Profile of Jessica Millan Patterson

By on June 20, 2019

Name & occupation: Jessica Millan Patterson, Chairwoman of the California Republican Party

Political role model(s) growing up: I live in Simi Valley in the shadow of the Reagan Library. He was obviously a huge influence, as was Abraham Lincoln. But for me, many of my heroes have been a little more real-life. John Peschong, who at the time was the executive director at the California Republican Party and a big deal at the RNC, was a larger than life figure.

As a volunteer and a young staffer, he was “The Guy.” Everyone respected him and he was in on all of our successes, which were many back then. As a young staffer, I admired his work ethic and the way he could both manage and lead. But as I’ve grown in politics, I’ve learned that what I admired most about him was his character. He had all the power and respect, but instead of letting that go to his head, he always treated people with respect and took the time to mentor young people like me. He didn’t have to, but he knew people looked up to him and he felt it was important to bring along the next generation if Republicanism was to survive. He’s still a friend and mentor today.

Book(s) you’re recommending to friends: “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek; and “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins

Issue facing California that no one is talking about: Abuse of power and a lack of accountability in Sacramento. In the past five or so years, we’ve had seven Democrat lawmakers resign in disgrace, as well as the California Democratic Party chair. There have been countless audits of state governmental agencies showing waste, fraud and abuse. The state budget is essentially one big pyramid scheme designed to pad stateworker pensions and salaries. The DMV is facing a long list of scandals, Caltrans was forced to campaign on state time to save yet another increase in the state’s gas tax and the Secretary of State has been unable to competently rollout a simple voter registration program–partially because he is incompetent and partially because the project was rushed to juice Democrat turnout in 2018–yet through all of it and countless other examples of dysfunction, rarely is anyone ever held accountable.

Democrats in the Legislature have stopped even trying to hide their abuses of power. When a Democrat lawmaker was facing a recall, they changed the rules midstream to try to protect him. It didn’t work and he was recalled anyway, but the changes in the rules have made it substantially harder to hold someone accountable. Democrats aren’t listening to voters. Voters upheld the death penalty at the ballot, but then Gavin Newsom overturned it once he became governor. Voters overwhelmingly killed a statewide rent control measure, yet Democrats passed a similar measure in late May. And Democrats also just passed a law making it substantially harder for citizens to qualify a ballot measure. None of this is talked about enough.

Top priorities as Republican Party chairwoman heading into next year: Winning elections! We want to make sure we hold all of our legislative and congressional seats, pick up where we can and expand our donor base.

Finally, you’re the first woman to head the California GOP. What message does your election send to voters in the state? I’m incredibly proud of our entire Board of Directors at the California Republican Party. Our board is made up of 23 members, over 1/3 of whom are women. We have four Latinos, a Taiwanese immigrant as our Vice Chairman and two openly gay men. Yet, not a single one of us ran on being the first anything. Instead, we ran on the issues that were important to our delegates regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Having said that, it is a fantastic thing that our board represents the beautiful diversity of California and that the media has taken notice; it shatters the narrative that the Republican Party is only old white males.

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