The Georgia Republican Party has been doing more to reach out to minority voters. Leo Smith is leading the GAGOP Minority Outreach committee, and I asked if he would like to pen a few thoughts on the committee’s progress:
The Georgia GOP’s Minority Engagement initiative is a new spoke in the wheel that is moving our party forward. This initiative highlights solutions that go beyond partisanship by finding soft-landing spots for voters of color to punch ballots for Republicans, and encouraging and vetting minority candidates to announce and run as Republicans.
After just six months, the Georgia Republican Party has numerous successes to report. New efforts are underway in targeting precincts that can make a difference, identifying natural allies, encouraging new leadership, creating fun social events where ideas can be shared, and preparing new participants to get out the vote.
Georgia is good soil for civic action that will impact the rest of the country. We are fortunate to have leadership from stalwart Republicans like the former and current chairs of the Georgia Black Republican Council, Michael McNeely and Rich Thompson. McNeely is now the 1st Vice Chair of the state party. Asian American influence is brought to the table from supporters Jimmy Ho and RNC Asian American Advisory Board Member Baoky Vu.
We are excited about the number of new faces rising to the occasion. People like Nicholas Buford and Carlos Hundley in Valdosta, Jessica Burnett in Atlanta, Robert Donaldson in Savannah, and a host of bold leaders in metro Atlanta like Travis Stegall and Kemay Jackson of the Georgia Black Republican Council. New names are also founding new coalition efforts and organizations. Jessica Morris Hayes in Augusta has already organized two events in Augusta with a new effort called CSRA Minority Engagement.
While inclusion, diversity, and engagement are important, we need a winning strategy. Millions of Americans appreciated the significance of President Obama’s election in 2008, while also acknowledging his presence hasn’t contributed to black American uplift. The reality is Democrats have made it their business to use the constructed Trojan horse of race as a weapon against more character focused Republicans. Republicans have the best solutions but you can’t implement policy that solves problems unless you win. Ignoring race and identity politics won’t help us in conversations where much has been made of race. If the Republican Party is serious about being the Party of ideas, we should work to flesh out good ideas and those ideas should sell to Republicans, Democrats and the growing number of Black Independents.
We must also be mindful that minority candidates can suffer from “foot-in-mouth” disease too. With changing demographics and smart phones with social media, closed-door conversations quickly go viral. We have the potential to lose good conservative minority candidates if we aren’t thoughtful with all messaging. A little consultation and preparation goes a long way.
We are looking at new candidates from untapped demographics with activist histories that stand for uplifting families, personal responsibility, fiscal restraint, education reform, and smaller government. We are seeking candidates who can represent the underrepresented. That means for example, Black Americans who can have greater say in justice reform to business development in predominately black American inner city communities. Likewise, we look forward to conservative Hispanic Americans with fresh perspectives on immigration reform that respects our borders and edifies patriotism.
The primaries are upon us and there will be many new faces this election season. While we still have a long road ahead, I am confident that our Minority Engagement efforts at the Georgia Republican Party have the necessary buy-in, support, and resources to significantly alter the political landscape in Georgia one voter, one solution at a time.