ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is set to unveil a plan aimed at electing "75 diverse candidates" and 150 women to office across the country as Republicans.
The nation's only Latina governor and former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno are scheduled Wednesday to announce details on recruiting black, Latino and female GOP candidates for state-level offices, the Republican State Leadership Committee said.
Martinez, a moderate Republican seen as a rising star in the party, has been leading recent efforts to diversify the GOP. She and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, for example, worked on minority outreach before the 2012 presidential election.
But President Barack Obama took about 70 percent of the Hispanic vote. Additionally, about 90 percent of black voters backed Obama.
Among women, around 55 percent voted for the Democratic incumbent as he defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Still, Martinez and the Republican State Leadership Committee have been working on long-term efforts to recruit a diverse slate of candidates for state-wide offices with hopes of building them as party leaders in the future. Martinez also has been vocal about Republicans reaching out to the growing Latino population, which is changing political makeups of states like California, Nevada and Texas.
"It's a great move and it's the only way the party can survive in the next 10 to 15 years," said Hector Barajas, a California GOP consultant and vice president of Revolvis, a California-based consulting firm. "Elections themselves are all about addition and multiplication, not division and subtraction."
Under the plan called the "2014 Future Majority Project," 200 new diverse candidates and 300 new women candidates will be identified, trained and given support to run for office as Republicans across the county. The plan calls for a goal of at least 75 of those diverse candidates and 150 women to be elected by 2014.
Aaron Pena, Jr., a former Texas state lawmaker and a Republican, said he's excited about the idea and wants to see more details on how the group hopes to achieve its goals. "The Republican Party is at a crossroads demographically," Pena said. "The country is changing, even Texas. And if Texas goes (Democratic), that's it for several life-times for Republicans as a national party."
But Sam Bregman, chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, said he wasn't sure if the GOP's strategy would work. "This must be a joke," Bregman said. "It's obvious why they aren't attractive to minorities and women. It's because their values don't reflect the values of minorities and women."
Bregman said if Republicans supported issues important to Latinos and women, like immigration reform and abortion rights, the party would get more support.
Leo Smith, director of minority engagement of the Georgia Republican Party, said the goal of any outreach is connected to rebranding and bring more diverse voices to the table. This election cycle, he was able use that strategy to convince six black candidates to run under the GOP in Georgia.
"I told them, 'Who owns the Republican Party? You do'," Smith said. "Join the party, get elected and then you can influence policy. That's how change works."
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