Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Republicans, critical of DEI programs, work to recruit female and minority candidates

By 37ci3 Feb 12, 2024


House Republicans have criticized diversity and inclusion programs in the federal government and elsewhere, but they see hiring women and minority candidates along with veterans as key to expanding their slim majority. in November.

Rep. Richard Hudson, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, recently listed a number of candidates for reporters that he described as fitting the GOP’s “formula” for expanding its ranks in November.

There was Prasanth Reddy, a cancer doctor who immigrated to the United States from India and joined the military after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He is running for a congressional seat in northeast Kansas. Then there was Alison Esposito, a gay ex-police detective running for a seat in New York.

Photo: Alison Esposito
Republican Alison Esposito is running for the House of Representatives in New York.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP file

Another example Hudson cited was George Logan, whose parents came to the United States from Guatemala and ran for a seat in Connecticut. Stockton, California, also has Mayor Kevin Lincoln, who is African-American and Hispanic, and another runner, Mayra Flores. He made history by becoming the first Mexican-born congressman, but was later defeated in the 2022 midterm elections.

“These are not ordinary Republicans,” Hudson said.

Republicans hope so Their gains in the 2022 midterm elections will continue with the final table of candidates. House Democrats have a significant advantage when it comes to minority voters and aren’t about to give up any ground, announcing a $35 million investment last month aimed at reaching out to voters of color through outreach, organizing and advertising. The contest to appeal to women and minority voters will undoubtedly be one of the factors that determines which party will control the House of Representatives next year.

George Logan speaks during a debate, Oct. 18, 2022, in Waterbury, Conn.
Republican George Logan is running for the House of Representatives in Connecticut.Jessica Hill / AP file

Hudson noted that in the last presidential election, prognosticators predicted that the Republicans would lose seats.

“We beat 15 Democrats and every single one of them had a woman, a minority candidate or a veteran,” Hudson said. “That was really the playbook for the last two periods. So we use the same formula.”

Asked about the House Republicans’ focus on hiring women and minorities, the House Democratic campaign chairman was skeptical.

“I think they say a lot, but I think their actions are really what people need to look at,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene, chair of the House Democratic campaign group. “Their actions were the opposite. They make a mockery of diversity and equality and push policies against different communities across the country.”

DelBene is citing, in part, the many policy mandates that House Republicans have included in the spending bills. Most of the bills sought to prohibit taxpayer money from going to diversity, equity, and inclusion offices and programs aimed at ensuring the fair treatment and participation of all people, especially those who are discriminated against.

Mayor Kevin Lincoln speaks on October 4, 2022 in Stockton, California.
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln is running for the California House of Representatives.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

It’s not just House Republicans who want to end such programs. Republican lawmakers in at least 17 states have proposed three dozen bills restrict or require Public disclosure of DEI initiatives, according to an Associated Press analysis using the Plural bill tracker.

Hudson sidestepped whether the focus on attracting women and minority candidates, such as House Republican candidates, is at odds with efforts to suppress diversity and inclusion programs within the federal government and elsewhere. He described it as “apples and oranges” and said he “didn’t think too much about it”.

“The motivation is that we want Congress to reflect America. And we believe that if we have dynamic candidates with compelling life stories, then they can win any district because they’re not the typical Republican,” he said.

Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, during a 2022 hearing at the Capitol.
Then-Rep. Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, during a 2022 hearing at the Capitol. Flores lost the 2022 midterm election, but is making another run.Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / AP file

Hudson will see an early test of the GOP strategy in Tuesday’s New York special election to replace Republican Rep. George Santos. has been activated from the office by colleagues in December. Tom Suozzi is a Democratic candidate seeking to return to the seat he held for three terms before running unsuccessfully for governor.

The Republican candidate is Mazi Piliba, an Ethiopian immigrant, former Israeli paratrooper and mother of seven children. Hudson said she exemplifies the type of candidate she believes can reach voters with a compelling life story.

“She is a mother. He is a soldier. He is an immigrant. This is the American dream,” Hudson said.

Hudson’s emphasis on diversity, the hiring of minorities and women, makes political sense given the growing racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. electorate.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Hispanic Americans eligible to vote has increased by about 12% and the number of Asian Americans eligible to vote has increased by about 15% over the past four years. The number of blacks eligible to vote increased by 7%. This compares to a 3% increase in the total number of voters.

Another example of how Republicans are helping women is Rep. Elise Stefanik’s E-Pac program, launched after the 2018 midterms to support and increase the number of women in Congress. The PAC’s website notes that 11 of the 15 districts that flipped Republican in the 2020 election were won by PAC-endorsed women and supported a record number of Hispanic women in the 2022 election.

“They have their own DEI offices. They don’t like to be called that,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of D.N.Y., specifically referring to the PAC. “But the Republican Party is full of its own DEI initiatives, because they actually see that their work, like many other organizations, can benefit from different perspectives.”

Stefanik said she was proud to help expand the ranks of female Republicans in the House and “we will win with the strongest candidates.”

Stephen Horsford, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he’s glad Republicans are recognizing the importance of hiring women and minorities.

“They have to acknowledge that in their agenda as well,” Horsford said. “They can’t speak with one voice and then do something else that undermines the things that help create an inclusive environment for everyone.”

Republicans have succeeded in increasing minority and female membership, but still lag behind Democrats on most fronts.

Republicans doubled the number of black members in the House to four in the last election, while there are 55 black Democratic members. In the House of Representatives, Hispanic and Latino ranks include 15 Republicans and 37 Democrats.

Women are 126 members of the House of Representatives, 92 of them are Democrats and 34 are Republicans. The statistics do not include representatives and Puerto Rico’s permanent commissioner who are members of Congress but cannot vote on final passage of the bills.

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