New Pa. Senate candidate among 900 Republican women meeting in Philly

The National Federation of Republican women is meeting this week in Philadelphia, bringing about 900 grass-roots GOP activists together to network and sharpen their political skills.

Cynthia Ayers, a first-time office seeker from Gettysburg, signed up for the conference campaign management course Thursday to get some tips — including what colors she shouldn’t use in her campaign literature.

“Most of the brochures I’ve been doing have been red, white, and blue, more or less, but we were told that if you do a red, white and blue mailer, people will automatically assume it’s political and throw it away,” Ayers said after the final session ended.

Ayers, 63, has spent a long career in the military and intelligence services, including work at the National Security Agency and teaching at the U.S. Army War College.

She wants to run for U.S. Senate next year, hoping to win the Republican primary and then take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in the fall.

When we spoke, I asked why she’d decided to go for the Senate rather than something more manageable, like a state or local office.

“Mainly because I’m not qualified to do anything at the state and local level,” she said. Her whole career has involved working at the federal level of government, much of it as a threat analyst.

Ayers said she was compelled to run by what she described as the country’s drift toward socialism, and the need to bring more veterans into elected positions in the government.

An uphill climb

Ayers faces seven other candidates in the Republican primary including four elected officials. The best known is U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.

Ayers begins with no name recognition or much political experience after spending a life in government service, where political activity is pretty much barred.

How will she reach 3 million Republican voters in 67 counties?

“We’re going out to all the fairs and parades, reaching out at the grass-roots level to anyone who will listen to us,” Ayers said. She said she has important things to say about national security and critical infrastructure, such as electrical grids.

Hoping her ideas will get some mainstream media attention, she noted that none of the candidates are well known to voters throughout the commonwealth.

Weekend to network

Ayers is getting in plenty of networking at the National Federation of Republican women meeting. The weekend sessions include speeches by successful women from around the country, including New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who’s running to succeed Chris Christie.

Ayers said Guadagno and other women she’s encountered at the conference enthusiastically support President Donald Trump.

“So far, I think he’s done a great job,” she said. “I think he’s been obstructed a lot, and, for the amount of obstruction he’s faced, he’s done well.”

As she’s campaigned, Ayers said she’s met Democratic women who seem surprised she’d run as a Republican — and surprised the party would support her. She said they don’t realize how important a force women are the in the GOP.

And when asked about Trump’s comments concerning women — including the stories of groping in the “Access Hollywood” tape — Ayers noted she was in the military decades ago.

“So I’ve lived with comments much worse than that for many, many, many years,” she said.

When I asked, she said she’d been sexually harassed, but didn’t want to talk about details, saying she wasn’t going to play “the victim card.”

But Ayers said her experience gives her a perspective on Trump’s controversial remarks.

“I didn’t see what the president said or did as being anything that was anywhere near what I’ve been through in the past,” she said.

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