Republicans hope to recruit more women and Hispanics to run for office

Chris Moody

The Republican State Leadership Committee launched a nationwide effort this week to recruit Hispanic and female candidates to run as Republicans, a push that GOP strategists say is vital to remaining relevant as voter demographics shift in coming election cycles.

The Future Majorities Project, led by Republican strategist and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, is setting a goal to recruit at least 100 Hispanic candidates for office on the state and federal level. The group is also partnering with the College Republican National Committee to beef up the party's ranks among young people and plan to spend at least $3 million on the initiative.

"The 2010 Census confirmed what many of us already knew, which is that the demographics of America are changing," Gillespie said. "And any political party that fails to recognize that is going to find themselves consigned to minority status in the not-too-distance future."

The American Hispanic population increased by 15 million from 2000 to 2010, and now accounts for more than 17 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to last year's census data.

In a memo released Monday, the RSLC acknowledged the GOP's "underperformance" when it comes to electing women and minorities, and said that connecting with Hispanics was "job number one for Republicans." Gillespie said the party's inability to woo that demographic played a role in Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2008 loss to President Obama.

"Elections held in just 10-15 short years will feature an electorate that looks substantially different from that of today," the memo read. "The Future Majority Project aims squarely to challenge the party's underperformance among Hispanics, female and younger voters. The project does this by treating these groups and opportunities, not obstacles for the Party's future."