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California GOP vice chair steps down, setting off search for state party's next leader

California GOP Vice Chair Kristin Olsen (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
California GOP Vice Chair Kristin Olsen (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Kristin Olsen, vice chair of the California Republican Party, announced Sunday she is stepping down from her post, setting off a search for the state party's next leader.

The former member of the state Assembly cited being a single mother, as well as her work as a consultant and on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, for her decision to resign. 

“Given the challenges before the Party, it is essential that we have officers who can fully commit to their volunteer positions. For both personal and professional reasons, I no longer have sufficient time to do so,” Olsen wrote in a letter to party delegates.

Olsen, who became state party vice chair last year and has strong relationships with donors, was widely expected to succeed state party Chairman Jim Brulte when he retired. 

Brulte, who has been reelected twice but is not expected to seek another term, will have to pick a vice chair replacement to be approved by the state party’s board of directors. The new vice chair must be from Northern California because Brulte is from Southern California, according to state party rules.

Olsen, 43, announced her resignation less than three weeks before hundreds of party delegates and elected officials are scheduled to meet at a semiannual convention in Anaheim.

The Republican Party in California, which birthed GOP heavyweights such as Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, has been in a decades-long decline. Its share of the state's registered voters is under 26%, and it last elected a statewide candidate in 2006. Many of the party's members of Congress are key targets in the Democrats' effort to retake control of the House.

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