16 in ‘16: Races to Watch
Arizona Senate District 2
Republicans have an 18-12 majority in the Arizona Senate.
A lifelong educator and Tucson business owner, Shelley Kais has always had a passion for pursuing and
encouraging a pattern of lifelong learning. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, she began
her career as a high school teacher and coach in Columbia, South Carolina. Kais later obtained an MBA from
Frostburg State University and pursued Doctoral studies at Walden University. She is a Certified Government
Financial Manager, a Certified Coaching Practitioner and has served as an adjunct professor. In 2007, Kais
and her husband Jim moved and relocated their business to Sahuarita, Arizona. A Spanish speaker in a
heavily Hispanic part of southern Arizona, Kais is able to connect with members of the community through
her service at the Workforce Investment Board, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Community
Food Bank of Southern Arizona and other local charities and organizations.
California Assembly District 38
In 2014, Republicans ended the Democratic supermajority in the
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Dante Acosta is a community leader and successful businessman
running for the State Assembly to bring common sense solutions to Sacramento. Acosta currently serves
as the Mayor Pro Tem of the Santa Clarita City Council and has had a successful career in financial services
with leadership positions at several financial institutions. In his spare time, Acosta volunteers with local
organizations such as Circle of Hope, Habitat for Humanity and the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club. As a
Gold Star parent, Mr. Acosta supports veterans’ causes, particularly for those who risk and give their lives in
protection of our freedoms.
Assembly District 38 is an open Republican seat, as the incumbent is running for state senate.
Colorado Senate District 26
The Colorado Senate is one of five single-seat state senate
majorities under GOP control.
Small business owner Nancy Doty is completing her first term as Arapahoe County Commissioner, but she
already has an impressive record of public service. Before her current role, Doty served as County Clerk and
Recorder for nearly nine years. A fiscally conservative Certified Public Accountant, she has extensive auditing,
management and financial experience, having served as Chief Financial Officer for the Colorado Governor’s
Office and Vice President and CFO for Bank One Colorado Trust Division. As state senator, Doty will bring
her financial acumen and penchant for fiscal sustainability to Denver to fight for all Colorado taxpayers. Doty
has also been recognized for her leadership skills; she received a Women Leader of Excellence Award from
the Denver Women’s Society of CPA and serves as the governor’s appointee to the Colorado Child Fatality
Prevention System State Review Team. Doty lives in Centennial with her husband, Wayne Brady, and has two
adult children and two grandchildren.
Senate District 26 is both an open seat and a top offensive target.
Florida House District 114
Republicans are defending a supermajority in the Florida House.
John Couriel was born and raised in Miami after his parents emigrated
from Cuba as children in 1961. An Eagle Scout and graduate of Christopher
Columbus High School, he went on to work his way through Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
After graduation, he clerked for the Honorable John D. Bates of the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia. Couriel practiced law for the next five years before coming home in 2009 to serve as
an Assistant United States Attorney, where he brought hundreds of felons to justice, focusing his efforts on
fraud, violent crimes and public corruption conspiracies. Couriel is now an attorney in private practice.
Couriel first ran for office in 2012 as the Republican nominee for Florida Senate District 35. Notably, he
outraised his opponent, the former president of the Florida Senate, and received significant endorsements,
including from Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.
Indiana Lieutenant Governor
The Eric Holcomb/Suzanne Crouch ticket is facing the same
Democrat nominee for governor from 2012, John Gregg.
Born and raised in Indiana, Suzanne Crouch has a strong and robust
resume of service in local and state government. First elected as Vanderburgh County Auditor in 1994,
Crouch later served as a Vanderburgh County Commissioner until becoming a state representative in 2005,
where she served as vice-chair of the prestigious Ways and Means Committee and was recognized for her
advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. In January 2014, she was named Indiana state auditor and
won election in November 2014. In that role, Crouch has continually worked to put Indiana taxpayers first
and has helped keep the Hoosier State on strong financial footing. Thanks to her efforts, Indiana ended its
2016 fiscal year with $2.24 billion in reserve funds, the largest total in state history. In every role and level of
government, Crouch has proven to be a strong, conservative leader who will fight to make Indiana a more
prosperous place to live, work, and raise a family.
In her successful 2014 run for state auditor, Crouch received 60 percent of the vote.
Iowa Senate District 34
Republicans only need two seats to flip the Iowa Senate.
Former teacher and career educator Rene Gadelha currently serves on the
Linn-Mar School Board and the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission.
In the Iowa Senate, Gadelha will continue to fight for Iowa’s students and schools and work tirelessly to
make Iowa number one in the nation in education. On the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission, she has
focused on growing and expanding business and infrastructure in Iowa. Gadelha will bring this same drive
and dedication to Des Moines to attract and retain high-quality, good paying jobs for Iowa. Gadelha and her
family share a strong sense of giving back to the community, and have helped create the “Adopt-A-Spot”
program in Marion to help keep parks and trails clean and pristine. Her candidacy has been supported and
endorsed by Iowa’s GOP leadership, including Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix.
District 34 is one of six offensive Iowa Senate target districts where the GOP has a voter registration
Kentucky House District 3
Republicans need to flip just four seats to gain a majority in the only
remaining southern chamber held by Democrats.
A successful small business owner of almost 15 years, Joni Hogancamp knows first-hand how burdensome
regulations stifle job growth and hurt Kentucky families and entrepreneurs. She is now looking to bring this
knowledge and experience to Frankfort, to fight the proliferation of big government, promote a friendlier
business climate and expand opportunities for all Kentuckians. Hogancamp has always been passionate
about giving back. She is the founder of Caring People Services, which provides in-home care to the elderly
and disabled, including veterans, and is heavily involved in her community. A lifelong Republican, she has
worked closely with the McCracken County Republican Women’s Club for several years, serving as both
secretary and president. Hogancamp has also served as secretary of the St. Nicholas Foundation and
chairman of the Purchase Area Mental Health and Aging Coalition.
District 3 is one of 25 districts carried by Governor Matt Bevin in 2015 where Republicans are challenging
for a Democrat-held seat.
Minnesota Senate District 53
Republicans need to flip just six seats in the Minnesota Senate in
order to gain the majority.
Sharna Wahlgren completed both undergraduate and law school studies at the University of Minnesota. In
1995, after a stint providing public defense to people in Chisago, Isanti and Kanabec Counties, Wahlgren
began litigating matters involving patents, trademarks, real estate and tax appeals. She helped protect the
rights of entrepreneurs, inventors and a wide variety of businesses – large and small. This work led her to
be named one of Minnesota’s Best Lawyers as she served clients at some of the state’s most respected
law firms. Wahlgren has served on the Board of many non-profit organizations, including the Greater Twin
Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS), the Minnesota Intellectual Property Law Association and the Hennepin
County Bar Foundation.
Wahlgren ran for Minnesota Congressional District 4 in 2014, inspired by her father, a life-long
Republican, who sadly died from ALS just days before the 2014 election.
New Mexico Secretary of State
This is a special election for a seat that is typically up in midterm
years and the winner will serve out the remainder of the term until
Nora Espinoza has led an impressive career as a teacher and small businesswoman. She spent 23 years as a
teacher in Roswell. She was also the sole proprietor of her own company from 1981-1987 and later served as
a managing partner for a food supply company from 2011-2015. Following her career in education, Espinoza
gained valuable experience in government as a legislative assistant in Santa Fe before moving on to become
the protocol liaison for the New Mexico Military Institute, where she guided and influenced the lives of young
men and women cadets. In 2006, she won the nomination for state representative and proceeded to win five
consecutive terms in the House before deciding to run for secretary of state. She supports Voter ID, just like 80
percent of New Mexicans. Her opponent does not.
New Mexico Senate District 29
Republicans have an opportunity to control the New Mexico Senate
for the first time since 1932.
Greg Baca is a lifelong New Mexican who grew up in the house he still lives in
today. After graduating from Belen High School, Baca went on to serve our country in the United States Navy,
and is a decorated Gulf War Veteran. After returning home, he worked his way through college, eventually
earning a business degree before attending law school at the University of New Mexico. Baca opened his
practice in Los Lunas to assist the county and help it grow. As a lifelong resident of Valencia County, military
veteran, businessman and attorney, Baca would represent the constituents of Senate District 29 well and
provide the Senate Republican Caucus with a unique and valuable perspective.
Baca is challenging Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in a district Governor Susana Martinez carried by
New Mexico Senate District 9
Republicans need a net gain of three seats to tie the chamber,
which would effectively give them control, as Republican
Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez would be the tiebreaker.
Diego Espinoza is a native New Mexican born in Las Vegas, NM. In 2005, while a student at Eastern New
Mexico University, he was appointed by Governor Bill Richardson to the Board of Regents, becoming the
first Hispanic student in the university’s history to serve in that role. During that time, he worked tirelessly
to grow Hispanic enrollment and founded the university’s Latino Leadership Summit to educate minority
students about the college enrollment process, available scholarships and financial aid opportunities. Diego
has always strived to give a voice to the Hispanic community. After graduation, Espinoza began working
for Congresswoman Heather Wilson as her community outreach liaison. He is currently the programs
director for CSI Aviation Inc., a global air transportation and aviation logistics services company based in
Albuquerque. Diego believes it’s time to set political agendas aside and put the New Mexicans first.
Espinoza’s opponent was re-elected in 2012 by just 161 votes.
New Mexico House District 24
Republicans took control of the New Mexico House of
Representatives in 2014 for the first time since 1952.
A lifelong New Mexican, Dr. Christina Hall, D.C., has dedicated much of her
life to helping others and giving back to her community. After graduating
from Palmer College of Chiropractic, she had the opportunity to spend her chiropractic internship at Walter
Reed National Military Medical Center, where she cared for the nation’s military members and veterans.
After she became a victim of identify theft in 2002, Dr. Hall became an advocate for others and helped pass
legislation in New Mexico making the crime a fourth degree felony and allowing anyone over the age of 65
to place a credit freeze on their credit reports to prevent the crime. As Miss New Mexico 2006, she used her
platform to promote awareness for identity theft prevention across the state during her year of service. She
also went on to represent New Mexico at the Miss America pageant in January 2007. Dr. Christina Hall, D.C.,
currently works as a chiropractor in Albuquerque. She and her husband, Glen, live in the Northeast Heights.
District 24 has flipped the last three election cycles.
Oregon House District 20
District 22 was flipped by Democrats in 2014 and is an offensive
target for Republicans.
Born and raised on a small farm in Oregon, Laura Morett is a mother of three who co-owns a small
construction business with her husband. In 2009, Morett was given the unique opportunity to participate
on the CBS show Survivor and after an incredibly successful season, decided to return once more in 2013.
On the show, Morett was known for her problem solving skills and for her ability to remain composed
under pressure. Morett and her husband Dan are actively involved in their community in a variety of ways –
including offering classes and mentoring to married couples, serving in student and women’s ministries and
serving on the board of directors for the Reid Saunders Association. Morett’s unique resume and diverse
experiences as a mother and grandmother, small-business owner, Survivor contestant and a concerned,
active community member have well prepared her to be the next representative for Oregon House District
In announcing her candidacy in November, Morett was featured in a People Magazine article.
Vermont Lieutenant Governor
Republican Phil Scott, who’s serving his third term as lieutenant
governor, is the Republican nominee for governor.
Former state auditor, two-term state senator and 2012 Republican nominee for governor Randy Brock is a
business-savvy public servant with an unwavering commitment to bettering his state. Prior to entering public
service, Brock was executive vice president for risk oversight for Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s
largest providers of financial services and previously served as CEO of one of America’s 500 fastest growing
companies, Brock International Security Corp., a business that he founded and later sold. A decorated
Vietnam veteran, Brock left the Regular Army as a captain in the Military Police Corps. He was appointed by
President George W. Bush to the Board of Visitors to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he
was the board’s 2010 and 2011 elected vice-chair.
Brock faces state Senator David Zuckerman in the general election.
Washington Senate District 17
The Washington Senate is one of five single-seat Senate majorities
Republicans are defending this cycle.
A native Washingtonian and resident of Clark County since 1973, Lynda Wilson was first elected to the
Washington House in 2014. In the two years since, Wilson has been a strong advocate for creating jobs,
lowering taxes, reducing regulations and protecting individual freedoms from big government. She and her
husband Tracy own a family manufacturing business that employs over 130 people in family-wage jobs. A
longtime Republican, Wilson formerly served as chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. Wilson is also an
active volunteer in the community, as well as being a supporter and sponsor of many of the community’s events
and charities. Wilson has a broad array of endorsements ranging from virtually every business organization
throughout the state of Washington to law enforcement, agriculture and education and was selected 2016
Legislator of the Year by the Hunters Heritage Council. Wilson serves on the Leadership Council of the National
Federation of Independent Business, the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Association of Washington
Business, and the Government Affairs Committee of the Building Industry Association of Clark County.
West Virginia Senate District 16
Republicans have an 18-16 majority in the West Virginia Senate, a
chamber flipped red in 2014 for the first time since 1931.
Patricia Rucker is a first generation American citizen who emigrated from Caracas, Venezuela in 1981. A
former teacher who taught in Montgomery County Public School System before starting a family, she remains
incredibly active in her community through her service in the St. James the Greater Catholic Church, 4-H,
WV4Life-Jefferson County chapter and Generation Joshua, a civics club for young people. Rucker participates
in local clean-up projects, volunteers for Jefferson County Community Ministries—an organization that helps
to feed the homeless—and attends as many local public forums and meetings as she can. She has served as
president of We the People of West Virginia-Jefferson County, fundraising coordinator for Jefferson County
Little League and as a precinct captain for the Republican Party in Jefferson County. A dedicated conservative,
she currently serves as a Republican State Executive Committee member for the 16th Senatorial district.
Rucker ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2014 falling short by just 131 votes against the
same opponent she now faces for this Senate seat.
The Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) The Future Majority Project (FMP) seeks
to identify, recruit, train and support candidates who better reflect the full diversity of our
nation. Launched in 2011, FMP supports men and women from diverse communities as they
run to grow the economy, support job creators and focus on ways to keep more money in
the pockets of working families. The efforts are helping to build a strong bench of current
and future Republican leaders. In the 2013-2014 cycle, FMP recruited 244 new candidates
of all diverse backgrounds and successfully helped elect 43 to office in states nationwide,
with an investment totaling more than $6 million – in partnership with Right Women, Right
Now. In 2015-2016, FMP aims to spend at least $7 million – in partnership with Right Women,
Right Now – to recruit 250 new diverse candidates and see 50 of those appointed or elected
to state-level office. FMP plans to see 10 diverse elected officials enter leadership and
expand the initiative’s “Diversity in Business” roundtable program. FMP is chaired by former
Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, with Governors Susana Martinez (R-NM) and
Brian Sandoval (R-NV) serving as Honorary Co-Chairs.
The Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) Right Women, Right Now (RWRN)
initiative serves to identify, recruit and support women candidates nationwide in order to
help elect more Republican leaders who better embody the electorate of our country, where
women are 53 percent of the voters. RWRN offers candidate trainings, mentorship matchings
and digital organizing tools for our candidates’ campaigns for state-level office. Since its
founding in 2012, RWRN has recruited hundreds of women candidates, elected 229 new
women to office and continues working to grow the largest caucus of Republican elected
women in the country. RWRN is co-chaired by Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell,
Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan and Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. In
the 2015-2016 election cycle, RWRN aims to recruit 500 new women candidates to run for
state-level office, see 150 of the candidates appointed or elected, and see 15 women elected
officials enter state-level leadership - spending at least $7 million, in partnership with FMP. So
far in the 2015-2016 cycle, RWRN has helped elect new women candidates in eight states.