New GOP effort aims to recruit minorities for state office
February 6th, 2013
12:15 PM ET
1 year ago

New GOP effort aims to recruit minorities for state office

Washington (CNN) - The trouncing Republicans received in November's election was fueled partly by Democrats' success among minorities, who formed a record portion of total turnout and overwhelmingly cast ballots for President Barack Obama.

As the national GOP examines what went wrong, a new effort will focus on electing women and minorities to state office, where organizers say a new generation of Republican leaders can help change the perception that their party is no longer reflective of America's changing population.

The Future Leadership Caucus, an initiative of the Republican State Leadership Committee, will "play an important role in finding ways to increase women and minority participation in the party by recruiting candidates that reflect the increasing diversity in the electorate," according to Ed Gillespie, who is returning as the RSLC chairman after serving as an adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He was speaking on a conference call with reporters to announce the group's formation.

That campaign has been accused of alienating Hispanic voters during last year's contest, including the candidate's support for a policy of "self-deportation" that was widely derided by both his GOP primary rivals and Democrats. Romney wound up winning 27% of the Latino vote, compared to 31% for Sen. John McCain in 2008 and 44% for George W. Bush in 2004.

Republicans have embarked on a soul-searching effort for their party after that trouncing, including attempts to appeal to a broader range of voters. Obama beat Romney in all groups except white males in November's election.

While Gillespie wouldn't delve into why he thought his former boss performed so dismally among Hispanics, he did say down-ballot candidates were forced to withstand a "negative environment at the national level" during the 2012 campaign.

But that could change, he said, if his group is successful in bringing in more women and minorities to run for offices like lieutenant governor and state legislator.

"It's not just in the GOP's interest, but it's in the interest of women and minority voters," Gillespie said, adding that the entire country, regardless of party, could benefit from more equal distribution of minority voters between Republicans and Democrats.

"It's not in the country's interest for one party to take a segment of voters for granted and another to write them off," he said. "It's not healthy."

One of the Future Leadership Caucus' co-chairman, New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez, said part of the GOP's effort needed to include convincing more Republican women and Hispanics like herself to run for public office.

"The way for the party to grow again is to elect more Hispanics and women at the local level," Martinez said on the conference call. "I feel strongly about that. We need to look into the communities and make sure those elected officials look like those communities."

Recruitment can't happen in Washington, she said, saying groups like hers need to sit down with potential candidates where they live to truly assess their priorities.

"I feel strongly that if we get out into the communities, and are careful about our tone, and listen - not talking about what we think they want, but listen to their needs - I think Republicans will do a much better job in recruiting good candidates," she said.

And it's not just about immigration, she said. Groups of lawmakers in Washington are currently hammering out plans for comprehensive immigration reform, including a bipartisan panel of Senators who announced a framework for legislation in January that includes a path to citizenship hinged upon bolstering border security.

That panel included Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, who like Martinez and her Future Leadership Caucus co-chair Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada, are considered rising stars in the GOP.

While Sandoval said Wednesday the immigration debate in Washington could be a "strong way to attract Hispanic candidates," it cannot form the entirety of the Republican Party's Hispanic outreach.

Martinez agreed, saying that "no single issue will redefine any party."


Filed under: Brian Sandoval • Ed Gillespie • Susana Martinez
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. rs

    Again- great thinking. What about the GOP's ongoing efforts to delute the votes of minorities through gerrymandering, or limiting their voting rights by artificially creating back-ups at the polls- or like in Arizona- printing the polling date wrong on ballot materials? Will they stop that too?

    February 6, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Republican Party has a HUGE problem at it's core.
    It is a Party gone crazy.
    Stop with the Orajel approach you guys need multiple root canals. The Tea Party infection, er, faction has spread and joined hands with a dormant oral cancer. You need root extractions and rotting useless members replaced with veneers that are not only serviceable but also appealing when exposed.
    Capisce?

    February 6, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "It's not in the country's interest for one party to take a segment of voters for granted and another to write them off," he [Ed Gillespie] said. "It's not healthy."
    -----------------
    Conservatives have been doing exactly that for decades to minorities, especially blacks. Now they suddenly want to complain about divisive politics when they will lose all major elections? So Republicans engage in what they feel is "reaching out to minorities" by beginning with this bungled push towards latinos.

    Did they think no one would notice that they have still written off blacks? Did they think that no one would notice that they are trying to divide the minority vote against itself?

    February 6, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Dominican mama 4 Obama wrote:

    The Republican Party has a HUGE problem at it's core.
    It is a Party gone crazy. ... ...
    -----------------
    They have been crazy for decades. The problem is two-fold. One they have lost their discipline, and so their true nature is laid bare for all to see. Two, they have sold their souls to big business and private capital, which is EXACTLY what Ronald Reagan warned them about three decades ago.

    February 6, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Republicans have embarked on a soul-searching effort for their party after that trouncing, including attempts to appeal to a broader range of voters."

    Well, GOPers did try a bit of soul searching here Minnesota recently. All the GOP soul searchers were voted in and promptly voted back out in the following election cycle. Of course, we still have Michele Bachmann, so using their own quote of:

    ... "It's not in the country's interest for one party to take a segment of voters for granted and another to write them off," he said. "It's not healthy." ...

    it's very likely that GOPers are really only interested in who they can fool, not what policies that are favorable to the majority of America GOPers would be interested in supporting and enacting.

    In all honesty, this new found rhetorical pandering is almost as offensive to me as suggesting that I, a woman, have been taken granted of, and that I, a voter, wouldn't know the difference between whether or not I'm being taken granted of by the two varying political party platforms being offered to me.

    I very much doubt adding more Michele Bachmann's to the Grand Old Party is the answer. Indeed. THAT would be most unhealthy. For America. And for the Re-Invented (again) Grand Old Tea Party.

    February 6, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    ""Republicans have embarked on a soul-searching effort for their party after that trouncing, including attempts to appeal to a broader range of voters.""

    No they haven't. They're just polishing the turd in hopes that some new shine will blind minoriy voters. They are STILL engaged in efforts to "fix" their demographic problem of minorities reaching a critical thresshold where elections can no longer be won with just the white male vote. VA has, since the election, already tried redistricting shenanigans, electoral college manipulations and just this week passed new and more restrictive Voter ID laws that clearly favor rural white conservative voters. Their lip service on immigration reform is all designed to paint "compromise" and "meeting in the middle" as enacting reforms that would make people legal residents subject to all our laws, paying taxes, etc., but without citizenship or the right to vote, which should be considered obviously and unarguably abhorrent to the country's founding principles. But no, we have to listen to the MSM take it all at face value and give them credit for "soul searching." I call shenanigans.

    February 6, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. sarah/Dumfries,VA

    The GOP's problem is racisim,everyone knows that,& they still dont want to work with Obama,that ignorant Limbaugh & fox news & others contribute to GOP lose

    February 6, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. ghostriter

    Republicans are looking at everything except the real problem....They have as recently as this past few days, reduced minorities to a bunch of mindless drones that will vote for whoever looks like them, whoever is offering the most pandering and who has more folks that look like them representing the cause.

    For the 1st and last points, having Michael Steel, Allen West and Herman Cain did absolutely nothing to enhance their chances with black folks. Having Rubio and Martinez did nothing for the hispanic or female votes.

    February 6, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Tony D

    How do you compete with Santa Claus? Democrats essentially offer their voters bribes of government freebies paid for by others or paid for by borrowing on our kids future. Almost half the country has bought into the model. Only when the people who are funding this madness pull out and go elsewhere and cause the pyramid scheme to collapse will the country begin to get normal again.

    February 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. A Kickin` Donkey

    The GOP is actively working to dilute the FEDERAL VOTES of Latinos, Asians & Blacks & urban dwelling women to a historical 3/5ths of that of the rural white male by way of their attempts to CHEAT in Electoral College counts and rigging Congressional elections by way of redisticting.

    To then turn and say that Republicans now value Black political voices on a STATEWIDE level is not genuine. Put forth black candidates with the philosophy of Colin Powell instead of Alan West and those types of GOP`ers will find some sucesss at the Federal & State level.

    February 6, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Soul-Searching"

    1. Using dirty tricks to pass a massive redistricting plan that created a "ghetto district" in VA...i.e., coralled all minority votes into one place so the rest fo the districts would be far more likley, and some almost guaranteed, to vote GOP (thanks VA).

    2. Trying to generate a movement to alter the electoral college to grossly favor rural white conservative voters by splitting the electoral votes, but only in those states controlled by GOPers that actually went for Obama this past election.

    3. Trying to make sure that there is no pathway to citizenship...just a pathway to legal residency and all the obligations of citizenship, including paying taxes, but without the ability to participate in the choice of representation. Can't let "them" become voters.

    4. Passing brand new Voter ID laws in response to the election, so that the number and kinds of "acceptable" IDs is further resitrcted and favors rural white conservative voters (thanks again VA).

    5. Plagiarizing Obama's 2011 speech in Kansas (yes, Cantor did precisely that this week...but IOKIYAR).

    The list goes on and on and on and it's only been a couple months since Obama was re-elected. There's no soul searching taking place...just a massive attempt to try to re-message an UNCHANGED AGENDA in a manner they hhope will trick minority voters.

    February 6, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit wrote:

    You call this "soul searching" CNN?
    Cantor literally just plagiarized Obama's speech from Osawatomie, Kansas speech this week:

    They aren't soul searching or trying to make honest changes. They're stealing what Obama has said in order to use it as lipstick for the their pig of an agenda...which HAS NOT CHANGED WHATSOEVER.
    -----------------
    You are "a sharp one".

    February 6, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Easier said than done. After decades of cultivating the Southern Strategy, the Republican Party will face a push back from aging white men who are reluctant to give up power. Progress will be measured by how many minority faces we see in the audience at the next Repulbican National Convention (2016). Putting up some token minorities on stage for show is insufficient. A picture says a thousand words.

    February 6, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "You are "a sharp one"."

    Teehee!

    February 6, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. nothing new here

    As a former Republican myself, I just look at this as an extremely low point in the history of the GOP. Great Repubs of the past, like Barry Goldwater, would have never given their blessings to this current state of the party.
    The GOP was never about legislating all this bigotry and so-called morality. Letting the social conservatives and other right-wing extremists take over the GOP was a big mistake.

    February 6, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. RomneyWho

    Don't fall for the sham America . . . They are desperate at this point, we will soon be running the republican party, telling them when, where and how. We don't need them. America is doing just fine without them.

    February 6, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. lolo

    Tony D says:

    How do you compete with Santa Claus? Democrats essentially offer their voters bribes of government freebies paid for by others or paid for by borrowing on our kids future. Almost half the country has bought into the model. Only when the people who are funding this madness pull out and go elsewhere and cause the pyramid scheme to collapse will the country begin to get normal again.
    --------------------
    Really now? Do you really belive what you are saying? This is why the GOP will never get my vote because of stupid nonsense like what you just wrote. You better pray that Hilary does not run because the GOP will not see the white house for the next 20 years if she does. You and the rest of your bunch do not belive in facts period. Please do some research for yourself and you will see who are getting the so called gifts .

    February 6, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. rs

    Tony D

    How do you compete with Santa Claus? Democrats essentially offer their voters bribes of government freebies paid for by others or paid for by borrowing on our kids future.
    _______________________________________
    Ahem! And Mr. Romney's offer of ANOTHER $800,000 to the wealthiest 125,000 Americans in tax cuts was what exactly?

    February 6, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. lolo

    @ Romneywho, I agrre with you. It is all a scam just to get back into power. They have shone their true colors and now they expect the rest of us o look over it. Please vote them all out in the mid-terms. We need to move forward. If the GOP doesn't let them leave. America will definitely be better off without them.

    February 6, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |