GOP Group Ramps Up Efforts to Attract Latino Voters

The Hispanic Leadership Network, a nonprofit offshoot of the American Action Forum and the American Action Network, one of the GOP’s most active and powerful outside-money groups, is ramping up efforts to connect with Latino voters.

They recently hired Jennifer Korn as Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network. Korn, a California native, is a political strategist, George W. Bush White House alum, and was instrumental in Bush’s 2004 re-election victory and wooing Hispanic voters.

Korn’s selection signals an important move in the right direction for the GOP in connecting with Hispanic voters, many who live in important swing states. Outside groups, like the American Action Network, will play a pivotal role in the 2012 campaign, likely buying up air time and investing in boots on the ground operations. Efforts to connect with Latinos by these groups will be critical for GOP electoral victory, especially when the RNC has been slow to implement a comprehensive Latino political strategy (though they have made some important hires to their communications staff). Republican Presidential campaigns have yet to show a high level of commitment towards engaging with Latino voters, as most currently have “no outreach focusing specifically on Hispanics” as reported by USA Today.

In January 2011 the Hispanic Leadership Network hosted a large gathering of conservative Latinos in Miami, Fl. Together with event Co-Chairs, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, over 600 Hispanic leaders attended the inaugural event. The two-day program was part of a long-term effort to attract Latinos to the conservative movement envisioned by American Action Network’s leadership, which includes Senator Norm Coleman and Fred Malek.

The American Action Network has also taken major steps to strengthen its staff in preparation of the 2012 election. 

Brian Walsh, former political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), was recently selected as the new president of American Action Network. Walsh brings extensive knowledge of the national political environment and understanding state by state grassroots organization.

A press release was circulated announcing Korn’s hiring:

“American Action Network President Brian Walsh and American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin today announced Jennifer Korn as Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN).  The Hispanic Leadership Network is a joint effort of the American Action Network and American Action Forum.

“We’d like to welcome Jennifer to the Hispanic Leadership Network family,” said Walsh and Holtz-Eakin. “We’re committed to building on the enthusiasm from the Network’s inaugural conference in Miami, and Jennifer will provide the leadership to take this program to the next level. Her experience and prior success in outreach at the local, state and national levels really sets her apart and will be critical as we continue our efforts to engage center-right members of the Hispanic community and encourage active participation in our democracy.”

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