California Trailblazers, a program to recruit and support Republican candidates for the state Legislature, announced its board of directors today.
“Just as we did with our Young Guns program, California Trailblazers will train candidates to become stronger candidates ready to bring fiscal discipline and government accountability back to Sacramento,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who launched the program with the Legislature’s GOP leaders, said in a news release. “Along with leaders (Connie) Conway and (Bob) Huff, our Board of Directors will ensure that the most qualified Republican candidates work their way through the program so they are ready to win in November and lead on day one.”
The program is modeled on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, also co-founded by McCarthy, which recruits and supports House candidates across the nation. As candidates meet metrics specifically designed for their race, they will advance to “Pathfinder,” “Rising Star,” and ultimately “Trailblazer.” These goals will focus on campaign infrastructure, grassroots support, fundraising, and more. The program also will provide training for candidates to learn campaign fundamentals.
California Trailblazers’ chairwoman will be Kate Gregg Larkin, 31, of Manhattan Beach, an attorney and the executive director of LA Loves You, a nonprofit focused on engaging young professionals in charitable giving. Larkin earlier helped launch Share Magnet, a Los Angeles-based social marketing company; before that, she spent five years on Capitol Hill working for the House Committee on Government Reform, Rep. Tim Davis, R-Va., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Tex. She also has experience as a political fundraiser in House races. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from UCLA.
The program’s chief financial officer will be Russ Johnson, 62, of Santa rosa, a partner with Menlo Park-based KPLJ Ventures, a private venture investment fund primarily focused on companies involved in optical and wireless communications. Johnson from 1998 to 2000 was senior vice president of global sales and marketing for JDS Uniphase; earlier, he worked for the Hewlett Packard Company (now Agilent Technologies) for more than 20 years in various marketing, operational, and international business roles. In 1986, he was the founding manager of the HP Asia Pacific Marketing Center in Hong Kong. Johnson was a Bush Team 100 member and serves on the Lincoln Club of Northern California Board of Directors. Johnson has a BSEE from New Mexico State University and an MBA from Purdue University.
Jeff Randle, 49, of Sacramento – who last week was named the Romney presidential campaign’s senior advisor for California – will serve as a California Trailblazers board member. He is president and CEO of Randle Communications, ranked by the Sacramento Business Journal as Sacramento’s fourth-largest public relations and public affairs firm. Randle was a senior advisor to Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, political advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2002 to 2006, and deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson from 1991 to 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.
California Trailblazers’ secretary will be Christopher Wysocki, 42, of Penryn, who is political director for the Legislature’s Republican Caucus. Wysocki earlier served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate Republican Caucus, Director of Member Services for the California Assembly Republican Caucus and Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Director for Assembly Republican Leaders Jim Brulte in 1994 and Bill Leonard in 1998. Earlier still, he was a partner in a Sacramento political consulting firm and President of a national small business advocacy organization. Wysocki holds a political science degree from UCLA.