A Republican women’s group in the Coachella Valley is coming under fire for endorsing a candidate who has not lived in the 36th Congressional District until mere weeks ago and is a virtual stranger to the area.

The East Valley Republican Women Federated (EVRWF) has also been criticized for endorsing one of three Republican candidates more than seven months before the June 5 California Primary and after meeting them once as a group.

The group voted to endorse Kimberlin Brown Pelzer, a soap opera actress, at its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 6, according to the organization’s president, Joy Miedecke. She said members voted “overwhelmingly” to endorse Brown Pelzer after meeting with her and her challengers, Dan Ball and SteveWolkowicz.

Lupe Ramos Watson“It is unfortunate that any group representing Republicans has endorsed a candidate without having full knowledge of whom, or how many, may be candidates for the seat,” said Indio City Councilmember Lupe Ramos Watson. “I agree it is much too early for an endorsement without public forums that allow constituents to ask candidates how they will represent our 36th District.”

The always-candid and outspoken Ramos Watson added, “It is even more unfortunate that the endorsement is for a candidate that has no history in our district — but seems to be based on perception of status. In my 50-plus years I have not met the endorsee, nor have I seen her at any community or Republican events. Sadly, after my experience asking for the same consideration in the last election, I feel that this action is not only premature but biased.”

Ramos Watson was a 2016 Republican candidate who briefly sought election to the U.S. House to represent the 36th Congressional District of California. She withdrew from the race in June 2015.

Asked Monday why the endorsement was made so soon, Miedecke said, “If people are criticizing us for doing the right thing that’s too bad.”

She also said the endorsement speaks for itself.

“The endorsement was made because Kimberlin Brown Pelzer has shown consistent conservative values,” Miedecke said. “She has built small companies from the ground up, is a successful actress, wife and mom, philanthropist and advocate for greater engagement by women in politics. She is a principled, result-driven outsider, not a career politician.”

Brown Pelzer made a handful of public appearances during Gay Pride and strategically posted selfies to her Facebook page.

But Miedecke said Monday that she has not seen Brown Pelzer for two weeks. “She has been sick and had a death in family.”

From the outset, Miedecke has acknowledged being impressed with Brown Pelzer. The pair first met when Miedecke introduced her at the California Federation of Republican Women Convention in Monterey on Oct. 6-8.

The role of Republican Women Federated is to support all Republican candidates, both men and women, but most of all to get Republican women in office, Miedecke said.

Which begs the question, some argue. Did the men stand a chance of earning the group’s endorsement or was it a lost cause from the get-go?

Kimberlin Brown PelzerBrown Pelzer was as a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2016. She was invited to speak at the RNC because of “her role as an actress,” according to her website.

Brown Pelzer will face Ball, 42, a former Coachella Valley television news anchor, for the Republican nomination for the 36th Congressional District. He has formally announced.  Wolkowicz, who sought the GOP nomination in 2016, is also said to be running but has not returned phone calls.

Both are eyeing the seat now held by Democrat Raul Ruiz.

Located in the southeastern portion of the state, California’s 36th Congressional includes most of Riverside County, including the area from Hemet to Blythe. It also includes the desert communities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Coachella, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells and Cathedral City.