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Indiana County businesswoman will champion female candidates with GOP leadership committee

| Thursday, May 15, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Christine Toretti, the GOP's national chairwoman for Pennsylvania and a businesswoman, is interviewed at the Clark Building on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

Western Pennsylvania businesswoman Christine Toretti was named on Thursday to the national Republican State Leadership Committee Board of Directors in Washington.

“We are honored to welcome Christine to our board of directors to help guide our women's recruitment and training efforts and lend her exceptional talents and vision to the full mission of the RSLC,” said Bill McCollum, chairman of the GOP's state legislative campaign committee.

The appointment adds to Toretti's efforts to court female voters and candidates that began in 1997 when then-Gov. Tom Ridge tabbed her to head an outreach effort to boost women's involvement in politics.

In a statement, Toretti said the Republican Party must do a better job of reaching female voters.

“Our efforts will focus our energy in targeted races across the nation to offer training and support to elect more women leaders,” said Toretti, 57, of Indiana County.

She has long been active in the GOP. She set up the Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series, a program giving women the tools needed to run for office, and served as the finance co-chair of the Republican National Committee in 2011-12, raising millions of dollars.

Toretti, a state GOP committee member, last year founded Women Lead PAC, a grassroots and fundraising organization to support Republican female candidates and help them meet the unique challenges they face.

The GOP's recruitment of female candidates has lagged behind Democrats' for decades. In 2012, the RSLC started a national effort, called “Right Women, Right Now,” that Jill Bader, communications director, said helped to elect 84 of the 191 women it supported. The committee has identified at least 300 female candidates to support this year.

“Our goal is that at least half of them win,” Bader said, adding the numbers do not include incumbent officeholders.

Toretti, she said, will be a valuable asset and leader in the effort.

Republicans hold the majority of the state chambers in 59 of the 99 bodies in the country. Bader said the goal is for the GOP to expand its influence.

Salena Zito is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at szito@tribweb.com.

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