Republican group launches push to woo female, minority candidates

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket
Susanna Martinez

Facing an increasingly diverse electorate that re-elected President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney last year, Republicans on Wednesday launched a push to identify female and minority candidates to run for state and local office around the country.

The "Future Majority Caucus," spearheaded by the Republican State Leadership Committee, intends to invest what is being described as "significant" resources to supporting and electing Republicans to down ballot posts who aren't white and male.

"The way for the party to grow again is to elect more Hispanics and more women at the local level," said Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the party's highest-ranking elected Latina, in a conference call announcing the project. "We need to look into the communities and make sure those elected officials look like the communities they represent."

Exit polls taken during the November 2012 election showed that black, Hispanic, Asian and female voters overwhelmingly supported Obama, a reality that has forced Republicans to search for a way to bolster their numbers among those groups. The RSLC is focused purely on local elections with hopes of building up a Republican "farm team" that can run for office in the 2014 midterm elections and go on to seek national office in future cycles.

"The key for Republicans to earn the Hispanic vote is not found at some conference table or a focus group in Washington, D.C.," Martinez said. "The Hispanic communities across America is where we're going to find the people that best represent and look like their communities."

Ed Gillespie, a veteran Republican strategist and adviser to Romney's presidential campaign, will oversee the project as chairman of the RSLC, along with 15 state and local officers from around the country. The group launched a similar effort in 2011 and spent more than $5 million recruiting 127 candidates for the 2012 election. Gillespie said they intend to make public a list of goals and a budget for the election ahead.

"We believe that 2014 is going to be a much more favorable environment for candidates running at the state level," he said. "There's no doubt where the trend line is going and has been going for decades. We've been a little behind the curve."