OPINION

OPINION: Former Gov. Luis Fortuño Urges To Diversify GOP, 'Find Right Messengers'

MENDHAM, NJ - NOVEMBER 05:  A woman arrives to vote at a polling center in the Mendham Township Fire Department on November 05, 2013 in Mendham, New Jersey. Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono are the top contenders for governor seat but there are six other independent or third party candidates also running: William Araujo, Jeff Boss, Kenneth Kaplan, Diane Sare, Hank Schroeder and Steven Welzer. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

MENDHAM, NJ - NOVEMBER 05: A woman arrives to vote at a polling center in the Mendham Township Fire Department on November 05, 2013 in Mendham, New Jersey. Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono are the top contenders for governor seat but there are six other independent or third party candidates also running: William Araujo, Jeff Boss, Kenneth Kaplan, Diane Sare, Hank Schroeder and Steven Welzer. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)  (2013 Getty Images)

Recruiting and developing talent is key to any enterprise, team or political party. Through this hard work, stars are found and winning efforts are built.

The GOP’s state level committee, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), of which I am a board member, has been successfully building our Party’s bench for over 12 years. Through our Future Majority Project the RSLC has recruited, supported and elected diverse Republicans and women running for state-level office across the country. We have been able to elect these men and women in blue states, in tough districts and in places where Republicans have typically been met with skepticism.  

I’m confident the sense of national disappointment in President Obama’s dismal economic record, combined with this cycle’s successful FMP recruitment efforts, will equal successes this November in expanding the diversity of our elected officials and winning more diverse voters.

- Luis Fortuño

Some of the program’s first success stories, elected officials like Marilinda Garcia of New Hampshire and TW Shannon of Oklahoma, are taking their experience in the state house and are now running for higher office. Others, like Beth Fukumoto of Hawaii, are attracting new people to a Republican message they hadn’t heard before. As our program continues its investments, our work is producing national stars and momentum is growing.

Our conservative leadership offers stark contrast to the dismal economic policies of President Obama and his Democratic allies. With the labor force participation rate at near record lows and the unemployment rate stuck far above acceptable levels and rising, Democrats have a tough sell to the American people this November.

Within minority communities their record is even worse. The Hispanic unemployment rate is far higher than the national average at 8.1 percent and the African-American unemployment rate is an appalling 12 percent. President Obama’s stewardship of the economy (or lack thereof) has been devastating to the very constituencies he carried overwhelmingly during his two campaigns. There is a case to be made to these men and women about why our Party better delivers on the American promise of opportunity for all. It’s time to find the right messengers to tell it.

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Republican policies of low taxes, smaller government and economic growth offer a distinct contrast to Democrats. Republican states consistently show faster growth and lower tax burdens than their Democrat-led counterparts. Studies show that people are moving in droves from blue states to red states — they are literally voting with their feet! Even Hollywood is moving to Republican controlled states for the better economic conditions.

With America’s changing demographics, it is critical for our Party to better connect with groups that have been a solid democratic voting bloc — women and minority voters. We have been unsuccessful in securing this support in recent cycles in many instances, not because our ideas and principles were not better, but instead because we didn’t have the right messengers or the right tone of message. We need to find, recruit and support these messengers — not just to win elections, but more importantly to invite everyone to the table to solve our nation’s problems.

The RSLC’s Future Majority Project is proud we are on target to hit our goals of 200 new diverse candidates and 300 new women candidates on the ballot this fall to build a strong bench of new leaders to deliver on the conservative promise of opportunity today, and run for higher office tomorrow. We are proud that Republicans lead Democrats in diverse representation at the gubernatorial level. Of our 29 governors, four are women and four are of diverse backgrounds. Additionally six women hold the office of lieutenant governor and two additional lieutenant governors are of Hispanic descent. We have seven women secretaries of state, one of whom is Latina.  While these are success stories, we are far from where Republicans should be at having elected representation that reflects the full diversity of America.

I’m confident the sense of national disappointment in President Obama’s dismal economic record, combined with this cycle’s successful FMP recruitment efforts, will equal successes this November in expanding the diversity of our elected officials and winning more diverse voters. Not only can Republicans offer candidates that fully reflect America’s diversity, but these men and women can introduce new voters to our policies that spur economic growth and increase take-home pay.  

The combination of President Obama’s bad economic record, Republicans’ better economic record and our winning recruitment initiative will bring the GOP continued success at the state and federal level in 2014 and 2016.

The demographic struggles of the Republican Party are being solved the old fashioned way — with hard work and from the ground up. I am proud to be a part of it.

Luis Fortuño served as the 10th Governor of Puerto Rico. 

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