This week’s Guest Dispatch is brought to you from the West Coast and a former candidate for Congress, John Flores. I met John many moons ago while working at the Republican National Committee. He’s good people, a great American. John ran in a very tough, Democratic-leaning Congressional seat. Twice.
While we knew it would be a tough race, both times, John still ran forcefully, optimistically, and with a grass-roots effort in communities with mostly non-traditional GOP voters. The RNC back then operated with the mindset that in order to win, sometimes you had to run solid candidates, again, again, and again. It was a war of attrition. It was expensive. And, yes, even fun.
While John did not win either of the campaigns, the GOP was better for it. John exposed generations of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters to the GOP message. I’m certain that these ideas stuck with younger voters. In order for this strategy to work, however, you need to keep at it. The GOP has stopped doing this and we have been seeing the bad results ever since.
The Democrats have engaged in this type of political warfare the past few years. I can think of one race during the past election where a persistent effort, over several years, was waged to unseat win in a GOP stronghold. It was in my native South Florida where Democrat Joe Garcia unseated embattled incumbent David Rivera. I know both of these fellows. Despite what you may hear in the press, they are good people, but very tough campaigners. As it should be.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media about outreach to non-traditional GOP voters. A lot of talk of high tech wizardry and the like. We need all that, however, we need more folks like John Flores running for office. One thing I really liked about John and his campaign is that he was not one to mince words. When you’re running for public office in East L.A., you can’t afford to do so. He also did not compromise on ideas or mold his effort into a cookie cutter campaign. A proud American of Mexican heritage, John has some advice for us GOP folks on the east coast. It is well worth a read.
My time in California, the border states area, and other Congressional districts far west from the Mississippi River afforded me a great opportunity to meet and work with GOP trendsetters such as John. I also learned a lot about our country and how blessed we are with folks from so many backgrounds united in one cause. We even brought many Democrats to our fold with a values-based message. If our party is to do better in this arena over the long term, we need to get out there and do more of it, take chances. As some folks say these days, go big or go home.
Republicanism and Hispanics: A Hand-in-Glove Fit?
John V. Flores
The 2012 Republican National Convention was a really good show. Glitz and glamour were everywhere. Speakers rallied the crowds as they spoke of Republican core values and stood representing every race and creed. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Florida’s US Senator Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz of Texas were paraded in front of the assembled masses. The Latinos seemingly came home to roost in the warmth of the GOP nest.
And then it was over.
The November 6th general election put to rest any notion that GOP outreach to Latinos/Hispanics/Mexicans/Chicanos were leaving the Democrat party any time soon. The GOP’s “Hispanic problem” would continue. Why?
I was a candidate for U.S. Congress in 1994 and 1996. I ran as a Republican in California’s 31st district against long-time incumbent, Matthew “Marty” Martinez. The district encompassed the greater East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley area with its mix of Asians, Mexicans, middle-class whites and other Latin cultures.
For many years, Hispanics/Latinos were consigned to the Democrat party. It was a “given” these voters would never join the Republican ranks as the GOP was the party of “the rich whites.” What a shame so much time was wasted with so little outreach. Nobody ever asked me why I was a registered Republican since age 18.
When I turned 18 in 1972, my dad took me down to the Hazard Branch post office to register as a Republican. This was the first time 18-year olds were allowed to vote and my dad wanted to make sure I was eligible to vote for Richard Nixon – which I did.
My mom, my dad and my grandparents were all registered Republicans.
While beating the pavement and knocking on doors during both my Congressional campaigns I carried a handful of pamphlets given to me by the Los Angeles County Republican Party. Entitled “Why I Am a Republican,” these pamphlets lay the groundwork of the type of work the Republican National Committee needs to do as they address “Hispanic outreach.” The core beliefs and foundations of the Republican party are a perfect fit into most Latino cultures: Faith, a close family structure and a strong sense of home.
But the gloves must come off.
The Democrat party is not abandoning their attack on Republicans as “the party of the rich, white oppressors” any time soon. It is up to the Republican party to work around the clock with community meetings and education seminars in which the truth will be presented in a straightforward and, possibly, uncomfortable manner. Questions must be addressed to enlighten Hispanics/Latinos as to who exactly they align themselves with if they register as Democrats.
Do you believe in granting your teenage daughter an abortion or contraceptives without your knowledge?
Do you believe your child should be told in school that it’s okay to engage in alternative lifestyle practices and that you are wrong and intolerant if you disapprove?
Do you believe that Barbara Streisand, George Clooney and Spike Lee speak for you when they talk to the President about our country’s political direction?
Do you believe that a lizard or mouse should prevent you from farming on your own property because it might be a rare one?
When I asked these questions of Mexican-American constituents in the East Los Angeles part of my Congressional district, the answers were a resounding “No!”
I then pointed out to these voters that by registering and voting as Democrats, this was exactly the sort of thinking and the types of policies they were perpetuating.
This sort of voter education is at times uncomfortable. It is hardball politics. It is time for the RNC to stop kowtowing to political correctness. Democrats have been experts when it comes to painting Republicans with lies, while camouflaging their own core constituents who range from the hardcore gay rights crowd to the tree hugging environmentalists to the homeless and 99% “occupy” crowd.
The Washington “experts” running the RNC need to step back, listen and learn that life outside of Washington is not what they think. They would then learn that helping elect a candidate of Cuban descent in a state with a mostly Mexican-American population is no great feat. They can also learn that party offices need to be open more than once every election cycle so that the important work of turning our country around can be done. And, of course, they can come ask me. I doubt they will.