WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers was elected to be the next House Republican conference chair — making her the most powerful Republican woman in the House.
In a competitive race for the slot, she received support from Speaker John Boehner, as well as 15 committee chairs and other members of leadership.
As part of her bid for the job, McMorris Rodgers urged her colleagues to vote for her to boost the party’s standing among women — an issue that the 43-year-old lawmaker has long been a champion of within her party.
Although staunchly conservative, even by House Republican standards, McMorris Rodgers is a loyal party soldier, and she has moved up quickly through the GOP ranks.
But despite her status as one of the most powerful Republican women in the country, her profile is relatively low within the general public.
Below, a few facts about one of the GOP’s rising stars.
3. 1. She Was a Surrogate for Mitt Romney
McMorris Rodgers made regular appearances on cable news shows touting Romney for president, and spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Her name was also mentioned as a potential pick to be Romney’s running mate, but she was passed over.
4. 2. She’s More Conservative than You Think
Although she was attacked by some Republicans during her bid for conference chair as being too moderate, McMorris Rodgers has a 92.14% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union — putting her above most of her House colleagues.
5. 3. She Says the “War On Women” Is a “Myth”
On Meet The Press last year, McMorris Rodgers said of the “War on Women,” “It was created by Democrats in an effort to distract Americans from the real issues.”
6. 4. She Graduated from a College with a “No-Touch” Dating Policy
McMorris Rodgers graduated in 1990 from Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola, Florida, making her the first in her family to have earned a college degree.
According to the student resource guide, the institution enforces a dress code (women must wear clothes that “accent your Christian character and femininity”), as well as a “no-touch” policy for dating. College chaperones attend off-campus dates.
Under current rules, students at PCC are not permitted to dance, gamble, play cards, or rent or watch movies.
Also, the school has a particular grudge against Abercrombie & Fitch and its Hollister brand: It explicitly bans clothes from both.
7. 5. She Wants More Republican Women in Congress
During the 2011 special elections, McMorris Rodgers was instrumental in recruiting Republican women to run for Congress.
She has a solid track record within her own office too: Freshman Rep. Jaime Lynn Herrera Beutler worked in McMorris Rodgers’ office as a legislative assistant from 2005 to 2007.
8. 6. She Was the First Woman to Give Birth Twice While Serving in Congress
Her first child, Cole, was born in 2007; her daughter, Grace, was born in 2010.