by Jennifer Sevilla Korn - When I joined the Republican National Committee earlier this year as Deputy Political Director and National Director for Hispanic Initiatives, friends and former colleagues asked me some incredulous questions:
“¿Eres loca?” “Do you really think the party is going to have a real effort in the Hispanic community?”
This isn’t about “sí, se puede” but “¿cómo se puede?” (It’s not about whether we can do it; it’s about how we do it.)
I have to give credit to Chairman Priebus for listening to what needs to be done and delivering on the commitment to fund this important effort.
Since I started at the RNC a short time ago, we’ve hired staff in numerous states across the country, and more staff will be put in place in the months to come. Our mission is to work in partnership with state parties and community leaders to build, engage, and strengthen our relationships in Hispanic communities across the country. In others words, this is a real grassroots approach: Hispanic Republicans talking to Hispanic voters one person at a time.
This “off year” presence is important because we can’t expect to win elections with a short term on-the-ground presence.
The Viva Bush campaign was successful at securing 44 percent of the Hispanic vote because our team engaged with the Hispanic community and listened to them — a year-and-a-half before Election Day. It didn’t stop once the campaign was over; President Bush and his team constantly engaged the community throughout his presidency.
We also went to where the voters were–including voters who had been typically ignored. The best example is New Mexico, which President Bush lost in 2000 but won in 2004. By working neighborhood by neighborhood, precinct by precinct, we won by just under 6,000 votes. We didn’t give up any area to the opposition, and I remember people were shocked when we opened an office and campaigned in places like Santa Fe.
Unfortunately, in 2008 and 2012 this approach was not replicated.
Yet even as we lost ground at the national level, other Republican leaders earned the trust of Hispanic voters. Gov. Susana Martinez and Congressman Steve Pearce in New Mexico have both proven that conservative values resonate with voters when you take the time to share your heart and your ideas. And in this year’s gubernatorial election in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is polling at 41 percent among Hispanics and has received the endorsements of more than 100 Hispanic business owners, the NJ Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Latino Leadership Alliance PAC.
We are doing all of this because the Hispanic community matters, and our voting power increases every election cycle. The community is best served when both parties are fighting for our votes, and the road to 2016 and beyond is all about engaging early and often. We’ve taken this on because we believe as Republicans we have something better to offer the Hispanic community.
For the Hispanic entrepreneur, we offer a future where businesses can operate free from government mandates and over-taxation. We offer a future where business owners can expand their companies and hire more workers with greater ease.
For Hispanic families, we offer more options for their children’s education. We offer them a choice in schools, whether it is a traditional public school, a charter school, a magnet school, or a private school. For far too long, Latino children have been stuck in underperforming schools. How many Democrat candidates are happy to send their children off to private schools—but then stand in the way of Hispanic children trying to get out of failing schools?
For Hispanic workers, we offer the chance to keep more of their hard-earned money. And we share the values of faith and freedom and the belief in family and opportunity with the generations of Hispanics who have come to this country.
Republicans have a story to tell, but we also recognize we have ground to make up. We can’t earn voters’ trust overnight. That’s why our investment in Hispanic engagement is unlike anything the party has ever done before—and unlike anything you’ll see from the other side.
As Chairman Priebus told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) this summer, Republicans “know we can’t truly represent America until we’re engaged in every community and every state.” And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Editor’s Note: Re-posted with permission from the RNC – original link.
Jennifer Sevilla Korn is the Republican National Committee (RNC) Deputy Political Director and National Director for Hispanic Initiatives