Republican House Latinos Mobilize To Bolster Ranks and Influence

By Marianna Sotomayor

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Tony Gonzales (R-Tex.) have launched a political action committee to support first-time Republican Latino congressional candidates across the country in hopes that having more such members will influence the direction of their party, which has often alienated prospective Hispanic voters with its harsh, sometimes racist rhetoric.

The Hispanic Leadership Trust aims to compete with the Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s fundraising arm, the Bold PAC. And it has the backing of top Republican leaders, who took turns professing their dedication to diversity during a news conference Tuesday.

“When it’s about the issues, we expand this party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said.

He and other party leaders said regaining the majority in the House requires investing in and talking to Hispanic voters about policy and issues — but they declined to reflect on how that effort has often been complicated by the anti-immigrant rhetoric and other messaging by former president Donald Trump and Republicans.

Among the speakers was Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who last year ran campaign ads suggesting that Democrats are trying to overrun Republican voters by welcoming undocumented immigrants — a sentiment often referred to as the “great replacement theory” — and last week tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that President Biden’s administration has been “shipping pallets of baby formula to the southern border as American families face empty shelves” amid a shortage.

On Tuesday, Stefanik described her party as diversifying.

“2020 was dubbed the year of the Republican women,” Stefanik said, referring to Republican women flipping 11 Democratic-held seats. “I believe that 2022 will be dubbed the year of the most diverse Republican Party ever with a historic majority with women, veterans, Hispanic candidates, Asian American candidates, Black American candidates, all Republicans leading the way,” Stefanik said at the news conference.

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