This past weekend California Republicans gathered in Los Angeles for their Fall convention. Among the chatter of who would run for Senate and which candidate would capture the Presidential GOP nomination, many activists were focused on how to grow the Party. The convention’s agenda included a forum focusing on Asian-Americans and a Latino town-hall.
Saturday’s Latino town-hall was a first for the California GOP, who under the new direction of chairman Tom Del Bacarro, has undertaken a statewide effort to remake the image of the Republican Party through local town-halls and an aggressive media strategy. The town-hall conversation was moderated by popular Spanish-language media host Santiago Lucero of Univision’s Voz y Voto. It featured a variety of panelists including grassroots activist Luis Alvarado of Los Angeles and City of Downey councilman Mario Guerra. (pictured below)
A main theme throughout the event was the need to have a consistent message and a long-term relationship between Latinos and the Republican Party. Emphasis was made that Latinos are not a monolithic voting bloc and they are not single issue voters. Various panelists and attendees discussed the need to discuss the tone of the immigration debate, and the need to expand the conversation on issues like the economy and education.
It’s no secret the California Republican Party has had a complicated relationship with the state’s Latino voters. In the past, the Party has not adapted to the growing Latino community, which represents almost a quarter of the electorate. Those numbers will only continue to grow, as more than half of California children are Latino, according to the latest U.S. census.
As the Hispanic population has risen, the GOP registration has declined. Republicans now account for 31 % of registered voters, compared to 44 % for Democrats and about 20 % for independents. The reality of the problem facing California Republicans in connecting with Latinos is in the numbers, as SF Chroncile’s Joe Garofoli correctly points out “Key fact: No Republican Latinos hold statewide office or serve in the Legislature. El bupkis.”
Many in the California GOP are working hard to improve the relationship with the Latino community and establishing streams of communication for a long-term inclusion effort. Other activists are taking matters in their own hands, establishing independent organizations to create a farm team of Latino leaders to run for elected office. Read more about the town-hall event here:
- SF Chronicle: Republicans trying AGAIN to court Latinos. Though this time, smarter
- AP: Calif. GOP looks to Hispanic voters for revival
- Sacramento Bee: GOP focuses on minority outreach
- CalBuzz: GOP Mashup: Gaga & Michele Meet Pat Boone & Ron