GOP group aggressively seeking minority candidates for 2014

Chris Moody

The ongoing saga of the Republican effort to woo minority voters continues this week with an announcement that one party group plans to spend $6 million this election cycle to recruit and support female and minority candidates at the state level.

The effort is a continuation of the Republican State Leadership Committee's Future Majority Project, a campaign founded by GOP strategist Ed Gillespie in 2011. In the past election cycle, Gillespie's team spent $5 million to recruit 125 Hispanic candidates and 185 women. For 2014, the group announced on Thursday a goal of investing "at least" $6 million to find more than 200 minority and female candidates.

"We as a party need to do a better job of having a sustained conversation with men and women of all backgrounds in our communities where we think we can make a difference. Not only telling them to run, but offering them help. I think that's an important point that we're trying to make here: that it's not only talking, it's about action," said Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican state representative from Florida taking part in the effort. "It's a good start, but we can and must do better."

Members of Future Majority Caucus, a group chaired by New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, held a conference this week in Austin, Texas, to outline its goals and plan for the next election season. The effort is part of a wider Republican Party effort to hit a reset button with minorities and women after the party struggled with nonwhite male demographics in the 2012 election.

Earlier this year, the National Republican Committee published a wide-ranging audit of the GOP's 2012 campaign efforts urging the party to invest significant resources into making inroads with minority communities. The party is currently seeking minorities to run for office on the state and local level and adopting a permanent presence in neighborhoods and districts that traditionally vote Democratic.

Jason Villalba, a Republican state lawmaker from Texas, said he anticipates the party will even veer away from hot-button issues like implementing voter identification laws in the future in fear that it could alienate minorities.

"We recognize as a party that those kinds of issues can become divisive," Villalba said. "I'll tell you philosophically that I'm not opposed to voter ID just because I believe it's about voter integrity, not about alienating our brothers and sisters. That being said, I also recognize the political implications of those kinds of issues and we want to avoid those issues that are perceived as divisive. So I think what you're going to see over the course of the next few election cycles is moving away from that kind of an issue."

According to a memo provided to Yahoo News, the Future Minority Project's goals for the 2013-2014 cycle include:

-Identify 200 new diverse candidates of all backgrounds. This reflects a doubling of our goals from last cycle when we initiated the project.

-FMP looks to not only recruit and encourage these candidates to run—we will help them win.

-Our goal is to elect 75 new candidates of diverse ethnicities across the country.

-Invest at least $6 million for the 2013-2014 election cycle.