The Republicans are to double spending at state level in an effort to woo crucial Latino voters for the 2014 elections, the party announced on Thursday.
Republicans have been making a big push for the votes of minority groups since defeat in November’s White House election that saw more than 70% of Latinos vote for Barack Obama.
The chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee, Ed Gillespie, told reporters: “The RSLC is proud to announce a commitment of $6m to achieve the Future Majority Project’s new metrics of identifying 200 candidates and electing 75 new office-holders, doubling our ambitious goals from last cycle. Our party, and more importantly our states and our nation, will work better when we can bring everyone to the table to solve problems.”
Gillespie was speaking at a conference in Austin, Texas, of the party’s Future Majority Project, which is aimed at increasing diversity inside the party. The RSLC hopes to increase the number of Republicans in state level legislatures.
The $6m is on top of $10m the party announced earlier this year to recruit staff to reach out to Latino, African American, Asian and other groups to help it in state, congressional and presidential races.
Gillespie said: “The Republican Party should better reflect the full diversity of our nation and the Future Majority Project is a key tool in recruiting, training and supporting new candidates who bring much-needed voices to the table.”
Latinos such as Senator Marco Rubio, who is championing immigration reform, and the governors of New Mexico and Nevada, Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval, who are heading the project, are helping to change the Republican image. But their efforts are frequently undermined by hostile comments by party colleagues in Congress about undocumented workers.
Some Democratic strategists hope that if immigration reform goes through, the bulk of the estimated 11 million undocumented workers will go to them.
Gillespie, said: “We know we have to do better in reaching out to traditionally non-Republican voters.”
The daunting scale of the task facing the GOP was highlighted a fortnight ago when Pablo Pantoja, the director of the party’s outreach programme to Latinos in Florida, resigned and joined the Democrats, complaining of a “culture of intolerance” among Republicans.
Gillespie said he was unaware of the resignation, as did Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives who was on the conference call with Gillespie He had seen the reports but had been out off the country at the time. “I don’t know why he did what he did,” Diaz said.
In a letter dated May 13, Pantoja, head of the party’s outreach programme in Florida, said: “Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic party. It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organisation [the Washington-based thinktank the Heritage Foundation] recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.”