16 in ‘16 Races to Watch



16 in16: Races to Watch



Shelley Kais

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.


Dante Acosta

California Assembly District 38

In 2014, Republicans ended the Democratic supermajority in the

California Assembly.



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.




Nancy Doty

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.


John Couriel

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.




Suzanne Crouch

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.


Rene Gadelha

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





Joni Hogancamp

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.


Sharna Wahlgren

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

Nora Espinoza

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.

Greg Baca

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

22 points.



Diego Espinoza

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.

Christina Hall

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.




Laura Morett

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.


Randy Brock

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.




Lynda Wilson

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

Patricia Rucker

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.

About RWRN

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.



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