James M. Evans, a politician and business owner, was the first African American chairman of the Utah Republican Party. He was born to Robert and Beatrice Evans in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in 1962. He graduated from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School in 1981 as the class president and attended Tuskegee University in Alabama the following year. He graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering. During this time, his interest in politics took shape as he became a member of Tuskegee’s Young Republicans Club. After graduating, Evans enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he worked as a navigator. After his service was completed, Evans relocated to Salt Lake City, Utah, and later started a small business in 1994. He started a payday loan franchise, Chekline, which eventually prospered and ranked him among the more successful black business owners in the city. In 2001 Evans ran for Utah state senator in District 1. The George H. Bush White House gained interest in the race and sent local advisors originating from the area to assist with the campaign. Evans won by capturing the votes of workers and racial minority who normally don’t vote for GOP candidates. His victory was considered one of the most significant Republican wins in the election season. Evans held office from 2002 to 2004. After his term finished, Evans focused on city level politics. In 2005 at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, delegates chose Evans to become the new Salt Lake County Republican Party chairman. He was re-elected in 2007 for another two years and hit the two-term limit for the position. After leaving office, Evans focused on his business, Chekline, and real estate investments. On May 18, 2013, Evans was elected to chairman of the Utah Republican Party, making him the first African American to hold the office.