Riley Gaines will be speaking at this year's Lincoln Day Dinner, which is hosted by the Chelan County GOP.

Gaines is a big "get," but to their credit it's not atypical for the CCGOP to snag conservative lightning rods. Last year Charlie Kirk, right-wing wunderkind and founder of Turning Point USA, headlined the Lincoln Day Dinner.

In a previous life Gaines swam competitively at the University of Kentucky. She made quite a splash (no pun intended). As a senior Gaines tied for fifth in the 200-yard NCAA freestyle championship.

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One of her opponents that year was Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer from the University of Pennsylvania. By then Thomas had undergone hormone replacement therapy. In so doing she lost a great deal of strength and muscle mass.

But Gaines and others were indignant. As the argument went, Thomas had an unfair advantage; she'd been born male and competed as a male in Division I college athletics.

Gaines leveraged her indignation into a form of stardom. She began to appear frequently in conservative media and on the conservative speaking circuit.

"Women are one group of individuals whose rights we promote and believe are important," says CCGOP chairman Aaron Young. "Despite different characterizations, women's rights are individual rights and they're important to our group."

"In discussion several months ago, Riley Gaines was identified as a potential speaker who could speak on that topic."

Earlier this month, Gaines publicly acknowledged a transgender middle schooler who dominated at the Junior Olympics in Cashmere. The athlete in question is an eighth grader at Liberty Bell Junior-Senior High School, where she participates in track and field.

The Lincoln Day Dinner takes place at the Wenatchee Convention Center on Sept. 22, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to register.

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