TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins announced Sunday she is endorsing Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and will serve as Fiorina’s co-chair in Kansas.
Jenkins, a Republican and certified public accountant, touted Fiorina’s private sector experience in a statement first obtained by the Topeka Capital-Journal.
“As a CPA who practiced public accounting for nearly 20 years before coming to Congress, I recognize when a system is as badly broken as Washington is, it is best to look to the outside for a new direction,” Jenkins said. “Carly Fiorina is exactly the strong, steady, no nonsense businesswoman that our nation so desperately needs.”
Fiorina served as the chief executive officer of computer giant Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005 after rising through the ranks at AT&T. She announced her bid for the Republican nomination May 4.
“Starting as a secretary and fighting her way to the very top, it is clear this is not a woman who was handed things; she had to fight for every bit of success she has achieved,” Jenkins said of Fiorina. “She is proof the American dream still exists.”
Jenkins’ endorsement is Fiorina’s first from a sitting member of Congress. While she has been endorsed by several state legislators and former U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., Fiorina had lacked the stated support of a federal representative before Sunday.
Sixty-two other Republican members of Congress have endorsed a 2016 candidate. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has garnered 23 of those endorsements, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has the support of 10 while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey each have seven congressional endorsements.
Jenkins previously had declined to endorse a Republican candidate for the 2016 election. On April 9, several weeks before Fiorina joined the race, the congresswoman indicated she would not be making an endorsement.
“I don’t think the field is complete yet, so I will not be picking a presidential horse, but I bet you can count on me supporting the winner of the Republican primary,” Jenkins told reporters in Topeka.
On Aug. 5, during another Topeka stop, Jenkins was asked if she would be watching the first Republican presidential debate the following night.
“We have lots of interesting candidates, some of them I know personally and some of them I don’t, so I’m in the process myself of trying to find out where everyone is on issues and sort it out for myself,” Jenkins said.
The congresswoman said Aug. 5 that she will support whomever the Republican nominee is. When asked if that means she will support bombastic businessman Donald Trump if he won the nomination, Jenkins said she would.
Fiorina ran for U.S. Senate in California in 2010, securing the Republican nomination but losing the general election to Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. The only female in the 2016 Republican race, Fiorina has seen her poll numbers rise consistently in the past few months, anchored by two strong debate performances.
“When I think of the critical challenges our nation faces, whether it’s job creation domestically or thuggish dictators and terror networks internationally, I can think of no one better to face them down than Carly Fiorina,” Jenkins said.
During a lecture at the University of Kansas in April, Jenkins urged more women to run for public office. The congresswoman said women often have to be coaxed into running for office, while it seems to come naturally to men.
“I think men sometimes just wake up one day, look in the mirror and say, ‘Darn, I am so good, I’m running for Congress,’ ” Jenkins said, a line that was met with laughter from the crowd.