The CCR Race: Things are Heating Up
Eric Lendrum, Politics Contributor
In a previous piece on February 14, I summarized the entirety of the current race for control of the California College Republicans statewide board, coming in April; I covered the two rival slates (Rebuild CCR and Thrive CCR), the respective candidates for chairwoman (Ariana Rowlands and Leesa Danzek), and the various endorsements both slates have received, among other things.
However, in recent weeks, a lot more has developed in the ongoing and increasingly exciting race.
Most importantly, there was a massive reveal of new candidates on both slates. Thrive finally unveiled its full list of 20 candidates for all of the statewide positions. Schools represented include UC Davis, Sacramento State University, and San Diego State University, among others. However, it was noted that several candidates with the Thrive slate hail from schools whose chapters still ultimately endorsed Rebuild, including: UC Santa Barbara, College of the Sequoias, Santa Clara University, and the University of Southern California.
11:10am This article was updated to account for several Thrive candidates who may have initially been members of pro-Rebuild chapters, but have since transferred to pro-Thrive chapters.
Rebuild, meanwhile, announced three new candidates in the span of three days. Two are from UCSB: Secretary of the UCSB CR’s Leslie Garcia, for the position of Statewide Secretary; and UCSB President Andrew Gates for the position of Chief of Staff. This comes right after the UCSB CR’s, in conjunction with Young America’s Foundation, hosted the largest lecture ever given by Ben Shapiro. The event filled the 860-seat Campbell Hall, as they were forced to turn away another 200 or so at the door, and were watched by over 750,000 people on the livestream. The third candidate announced is Taylor Spring, who founded the CR chapter at Saddleback College, and is running to be the new Membership Director. And the fourth candidate announced is Jake Thomasy, the president of the CR chapter at Cal State University Bakersfield, who is the Rebuild candidate for Central Valley Vice Chairman - thus marking the first announced regional vice chair of the Rebuild slate. Now at a total of eight announced candidates, Rebuild currently consists only of candidates from chapters that have endorsed the slate.
11:10am: This article was updated to account for one more Rebuild candidate who was announced shortly before the article’s original date of publication.
In addition, the race for endorsements between the two slates has tightened significantly. Since the previous article’s publication, Rebuild has seen a surge in chapter endorsements over its rival. Rebuild garnered the endorsements of four more chapters, while Thrive only gained one more new endorsement, from Santa Barbara City College. Rebuild’s strength has especially come from the northern region, with three northern chapters declaring their support for Rebuild: Cal State University Maritime Academy, Modesto Jr. College, and Cañada College. Thus, the new tally for chapter endorsements currently stands at 22 for Rebuild, and 24 for Thrive.
11:10am: This article was updated to clarify the exact timeframe of when each slate earned a new chapter endorsement between the previous article’s publication and this article’s publication.
On top of these chapter endorsements, Rebuild formally announced its first endorsement from an elected official: Former Assemblywoman Young Kim, from the 65th District. Thrive, meanwhile, garnered two more endorsements from elected officials: Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes, and State Senator Andy Vidak, from the 14th District.
However, several new controversies have arisen, with allegations of bias, voter suppression, and stalling on behalf of the current CCR board (which consists almost entirely of Thrive supporters and members).
Rowlands herself released a Facebook post claiming bias on behalf of the incumbent CCR board. The post contains a screenshot of an email sent by Jordan Dennison - the current San Diego Regional Vice Chair and Thrive’s candidate for Executive Director - openly calling for volunteers to attend a meeting of the Orange County GOP Central Committee (where they were allegedly about to endorse Rowlands and Rebuild), and demanding that they voice opposition to Rowlands. Dennison includes an attached template letter for people to use; in it, he accuses Rowlands of being responsible for Assemblywoman Kim’s loss in a State Senate race in 2016, due to allegedly drawing many College Republicans away with a Get-Out-The-Vote deployment to Nevada the weekend before the election. (Kim’s endorsement of Rebuild, however, seems to indicate that the Assemblywoman disagrees with this sentiment). He also claims that Rowlands does not “have Orange County’s best interests at heart.”
Rowlands particularly notes that this email was sent from Dennison’s official, CCR-issued email address (“@collegegop.org”) rather than his personal email. This, Rowlands claims, is proof of the incumbent CCR leaders deliberately abusing their titles and positions of power to intimidate potential Rebuild supporters and advance Thrive.
This came shortly after Leesa Danzek herself did, in fact, arrive at the meeting and spoke right after Rowlands’ speech. Despite Rowlands being named “Volunteer of the Month” for the month of January by the Central Committee, the committee ultimately did not vote to endorse either Rebuild or Thrive. Rowlands claimed that Danzek came all the way down from Sacramento (traversing nearly the entire length of the state of California) just to sabotage her efforts at receiving endorsements from local parties and elected officials, rather than focusing on earning her own endorsements from committees local to her in the northern region. She also demanded that Dennison issue an apology for the use of his official email for partisan reasons.
The Millennial Review reached out to Danzek and Dennison for comment, but neither has responded.
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