About Us

The Mission and History of CCR


California College Republicans (CCR) was founded in 1963 and is the official College Republican organization for the state of California — and the premier conservative grassroots organization on college campuses! A chartered organization of the California Republican Party, CCR recruits, trains, and empowers College Republicans to combat liberal bias on campus, and helps to elect Republicans throughout our state.

College Republicans, as partisan actors, are able to campaign for and directly support Republican candidates, unlike non-partisan organizations like Turning Point, USA (TPUSA) and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF).

It is our mission to have every College Republican in our ranks practiced with the principles of hard work; empowered with the courage to promote conservative, America First, Republican values; and prepared to effect change everywhere they go.


The California College Republicans (CCR) is a California state organization for college, university, high school, and alumni members who support the Republican Party of the United States. Founded on August 29, 1963, the organization is the official chartered youth wing and a recruiting tool for the California Republican Party. It has produced many prominent republican and conservative activists, with notable alumni such as Congressmen Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Kiley, Ed Royce, and Dana Rohrabacher; political commentator Ben Shapiro; RNC Committeeman and husband of Congresswoman Michelle Steel, Shawn Steel; and many more.

Founding and Early History


CCR began with 1,800 members on August 29, 1963 — founded by Randolph Siefkin, Harold Phillips, William Nielsen, William Dillon, and Pete Wilson (who went on to serve as a US Senator from 1983 to 1991 and Governor of California from 1991 to 1999).

The 1963 mission statement of CCR read:

The specific and primary purposes for which this corporation is formed are to support the Republican party, to provide pleasure and recreation for the members, to encourage constructive thinking among young people and the development of their interest in good government, and to unite young people in the spirit of good fellowship to achieve these objectives.

CCR was formed as a break-off group of the California Young Republican College Federation, also known as the California College Federation of Young Republicans, following election disputes in 1962 and 1963. In 1962, the moderates and conservatives violently clashed, with Walter Driver of the conservatives stating six sergeant-at-arms "banged my head into a chair and my body into a wall."

Harold Phillips of the moderates ultimately prevailed in the election as chair.

In 1963, competing conventions of a conservative wing and a moderate wing each elected new chairmen. Trent Devenney and Randy Siefkin each claimed legitimacy, with the California Young Republicans organization — at the time the parent organization of the college federation — set to recognize Devenney. At the same time, nationally, College Republican groups began to break off from the Young Republican groups, where one would service students and the other would service young adults. Siefkin helped lead this split in California, taking his moderate wing of students with him to form CCR. CCR would go on to charter with the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) (which it later separated from in 2019) after it broke off from the Young Republican National Federation. The California Young Republican College Federation continued to exist as part of the California Young Republicans and the Young Republican National Federation until 1969, when they merged with CCR in a unity election. The unification was supported and partially brokered by then-Governor Ronald Reagan.

Reagan enjoyed and worked closely with the youth — among them CCR members — during his campaigns and tenure. In 1988, he described CCR as "A group I take a kind of personal interest in..."

CCR also earned the admiration and attention of another President, Gerald Ford. In 1967, then-House Minority Leader Ford attended the annual CCR convention in Santa Barbara as the keynote speaker. He concluded with the following:

We must build the Republican Party ... We can do that if college Republicans here and throughout the Nation will rise to the responsibility that is theirs--the challenge to go out into the wilderness of young Democrats and come back with some scalps. The future of the Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen, is in your hands.

CCR conventions have featured a number of notable speakers over the years, including Gov. Pete Wilson, Gov. George Deukmejian, Lt. Gov. Edwin Reinecke, Lt. Gov. Mike Curb, Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr., Milo Yiannopoulos, Amb. Richard Grenell, Rep. Paul Gosar, and many others.

1963 was not the only time CCR faced competing conventions and claims of legitimacy. In 1987, Fred Whitaker (who went on to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County) and Jim Michalski ran for chairman. Whitaker, unable to mount enough delegates to win the election, led a walkout at the 1987 election, hoping to break quorum. However, not enough delegates left with Whitaker, and the election proceeded with a vote for Michalski. Whitaker, meanwhile, convened his own convention with the delegates that followed him, where they elected him as chairman. This triggered a crisis over the rightful Chairman of CCR.

Whitaker was backed by CRNC Chairman Stockton Reeves, and Michalski was backed by the California Republican Party. The state party stepped in with, according to the San Francisco Examiner, "a private meeting trying to resolve a dispute between two college Republican groups." This led to party leadership, including CAGOP Chairman Bob Naylor, missing a vote of the party convention calling for the prosecution of the San Francisco AIDS foundation. The state party eventually caved to the CRNC and agreed to recognize both groups as equal and legitimate. They finally merged again in 1988, following a unity convention.

In an interview with the Orange County Register, Whitaker said: "'I was running for chairman of the state College Republicans and we split into two organizations,' ... A 'unity convention' followed and both groups reunited a year later..." Whitaker was defeated by Michalski in the unity convention rematch election.

Rowlands Era


Prior to the election of President Trump in 2016, the California College Republicans had not had a contested election in nearly a decade.

The prevailing school of thought among College Republican leadership was that the organization was only meant to knock doors, make phone calls, throw parties, and do everything the California Republican Party says — and have no opinions of their own. And the average member defined themselves as "socially liberal, fiscally conservative."

But the election of Donald Trump sparked a resurgence of youth activism, conservatism, and populism in California, which led to Ariana Rowlands' involvement in the College Republicans.

In 2017, upset with CCR leadership for concealing governing documents and failing to adequately help and support chapters, Rowlands built a socially conservative and pro-Trump coalition to contest the CCR heir apparent, Vice-chair Leesa Danzek, for the position of chairman in the spring election.

Danzek and her faction were considered the moderate-wing of CCR, with Danzek describing herself as "fiscally conservative, socially liberal." She was considered a darling of CAGOP establishment insiders, such as then-CAGOP Chairman Jim Brulte.

Danzek favored the traditional College Republican model of knocking doors, making phone calls, partying, and listening to the CAGOP. Meanwhile, Rowlands campaigned on knocking doors, making phone calls, partying, engaging in activism events on campus, registering voters, making appearances in media, building an independent youth platform to steer the CAGOP in a different direction, and working with the CAGOP on like-minded projects — but not letting them call the shots unquestioned.

This expansion in the scope of CCR's influence was extremely controversial — and turned off many CAGOP insiders who preferred a quiet and complacent CCR. But Rowlands' platform was widely popular with members, and many considered her the favorite to win the election.

However, the 2017 convention was derailed before voting began, with the OC Register summarizing the events:

Hours-long debates on parliamentary procedures and questions about who could and couldn’t vote ended with student organizers booting more than 150 delegates from a Double Tree Hotel ballroom in San Jose, where the election was being held, into a hallway. The meeting dissolved into heated debates over procedures and by the time some delegates were allowed to return, it was too late. Hotel staff said it was time to go.

The election was effectively delayed indefinitely after CCR's reservation on its meeting room expired. And in the months after, CCR leadership attempted to conduct a secret election to install Leesa as chair, but Republican National Committeeman Shawn Steel stepped in and pressured the organization to proceed with a fair in-person election in the fall.

The CCR Convention was reconvened in October 2017 at the California Republican Party Fall Convention. By that point, Leesa Danzek had assumed the chairmanship following Ivy Allen's resignation in August, as she had been Vice Chair and was next in the line of succession. At the meeting, the LA Times reported that "[M]embers accused Danzek of using her influence over the state organization to withhold information about the election and improperly disqualify some students from voting"

Despite the tensions, Rowlands emerged the victor by a vote of 88–64.

Rowlands kept her platform promises and boosted CCR's notoriety with a mass media blitz. She was listed as one of Washington Examiner's "30 Under 30," and brought renewed media attention to CCR from "FOX News, ABC 7 and The Daily Ledger ... Breitbart News ... TIME..." She also championed activism events throughout the state — and she heavily encouraged chapters to support President Donald Trump and embrace his views.

Rowlands remained popular enough to win reelection in 2018, where she staged the largest attended CCR convention in modern history at over 220 attendees.

However, she also faced scandal in her second term. Rowlands and her eventual successor, Kimo Gandall, were accused of allegedly removing CCR members and chapters they disliked via the Judicial Board case Gandall et al. v Morcott et al, which found two members guilty of violating the CCR constitution and stripped their voting rights. According to the Judicial case in question, no further action was taken, and the members and chapters in question remained part of CCR. The case order read:

"[O]rder (1) does not imply formal expulsion from the California College Republicans ... order (3) does not imply the permanent forced dechartering of the defendants’ respective chapters ... [T]o regain the ability to send delegates to the annual convention ... the members may remove the defendants from the presidency of their respective chapters, or (2) the members may amend their governing documents to legally appropriate the power to petition CCR away from the president and to some other member of their chapter as they see fit."

However, dissatisfaction with Rowlands led to another contested election in 2019. Kimo Gandall, backed by Rowlands, and Matt Ronnau each built slates of candidates and announced their intention to run for the CCR Executive Board. Prior to the 2019 election, Ronnau and his slate dropped out of the race and led a push for 10 clubs split off from CCR as a splinter group — instead of attending and running in the election. In the press release announcing the mass decharter, the clubs charged that CCR was "Failing to address ... repeated concerns," yet the clubs in question did not appear at the election or introduce legislation to amend CCR's constitution. Gandall was elected chairman.

The 10 clubs that formed the splinter group were regarded as "an establishment GOP group that broke away from the more pro-Trump California College Republicans in 2019." CCR, meanwhile, was "the 'Trump wing of the GOP'" (according to The Chronicle of Higher Education) — and sought to continue Rowlands' socially conservative legacy. CCR maintained a supermajority of College Republican clubs in California during the splintering.

Gandall attempted to bring the clubs back into CCR, but was unsuccessful.

From 2020 to 2022, Chairmen Nick Ortiz, Will Donahue, and Nate Bymel continued efforts to bring the splinter group back into CCR and succeeded in getting a portion of clubs to rejoin. Additionally, they launched the news section of the CCR website and CCR's annual voter guide — which further expanded CCR's influence.

In 2022, CCR Chairman Dylan Martin began collaboration with new splinter group leader David Chan to fully merge the organization once again, and the two reached an agreement to hold a joint "unity" election in Las Vegas on June 24, 2023. In a move voted on by delegates of both groups with 59% of the vote, the splinter group fully merged back into CCR. Chan was unanimously elected chairman of the CCR, and he proceeded to appoint Dylan Martin as Executive Director. Corrin Rankin, Vice Chairwoman of the California Republican Party, attended the unity election and congratulated Chan and Martin on unity, saying:

The College Republicans have voted to unify ... Ensuring Republicans have a presence on college campuses is necessary to grow our party amongst young voters. I was honored to witness the unity today at their convention in Las Vegas. Congratulations to David Chan on being unanimously elected Chairman.

Chan is notable for serving concurrently as Chairman of the Alameda County Republican Party.

Martin and Chan later filed paperwork to trademark "College Republicans" as one step to prevent future splits.

This era of CCR began with a split and ended upon reunification — but is most notable for its transformation of the ideology and school of thought among average members in the organization from start to end that began with Ariana Rowlands' leadership. While in 2016, most members were socially liberal and fiscally conservative, by 2023 most members identified as socially conservative and fiscally populist. Additionally, members had grown to view CCR as a political organization truly independent from the CAGOP that is capable of doing far more than just knocking doors.

Chan Era


Besides being remembered as a great unifier that helped CCR rebuild after the 2019 fracture under Chairwoman Rowlands, Chairman David Chan is also notable for beginning a new era in CCR history that sought to expand on Rowlands policy.

During his term as chair, Chan sought to grow CCR into a political powerhouse capable of recruiting and running candidates for office, fundraising enough to engage in slate mail, and aiding in the professional development of members.

Chan also succeeded in growing CCR's influence in the CAGOP and other California conservative groups by serving concurrently as chairman of the Alameda County Republican Party.

Chairmen of CCR

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