Oct 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

RNC woos Texas Latinos

Photo of a person wearing a red Trump 2020 cap and holding up a "Latinos for Trump" sign at an outdoor protest

A pro-Trump protester in Austin, Texas, after Joe Biden's victory. Photo: Sergio Flores/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican National Committee is working to court more conservative Hispanic voters in south Texas, even as the state's GOP majority uses redistricting to blunt demographic changes that should be empowering Hispanic representation and helping Democrats.

Driving the news: The RNC is opening a Hispanic community center in San Antonio on Monday. It's the third such outreach center the party has opened in south Texas this year.

  • The effort comes as Republicans try to win back a handful of seats to regain control of the House of Representatives in 2022.
  • It also follows a weekend in which the Texas House approved a plan — on a party-line vote — that would reduce the number of Hispanic-majority districts statewide to seven from eight.
  • That change will help preserve GOP dominance in the state for the next decade.

The other side: The Democratic National Committee has launched a nationwide, $25 million initiative aimed at boosting voter protection and education among communities of color.

  • It includes litigation efforts against voting restrictions, and online tools helping identify who’s impacted by the laws, according to spokesperson Lucas Acosta.
  • In the Rio Grande Valley, the organization is investing in combating right-wing disinformation among Hispanics, he added.

Why it matters: While people of color overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden during the 2020 election, Republicans made gains with some Latinos.

  • These RNC centers are intended to serve as hubs for candidate recruitment, casual gatherings and GOTV efforts. The efforts will be in tandem with broader messaging tailored to U.S.-born Latinos, immigrants and college-age voters.
  • Republicans are seeking to appeal to Latino voters on conservative values, border security, the economy and opposition to socialism.
  • RNC communications director Danielle Alvarez says the focus is on having "meaningful conversations that will help us win elections but also grow our party and better represent these communities."

Details: The new San Antonio center sits in a competitive district held by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R). He told Axios this type of engagement can be critical for Republicans trying to win traditionally Democratic districts or to keep seats in swing districts.

  • "Many of these communities have felt forgotten by the Republican Party for a very long time," he said. "Show up early, show up often, and victory will be easier to obtain."
  • He described his own successes increasing Republican votes in Eagle Pass, Texas, a border community in traditionally blue Maverick County.
  • The RNC has also opened centers in majority-Hispanic Laredo and McAllen, which in 2020 saw the two biggest swings toward former President Trump of U.S. metro areas with populations over 250,000, according to the New York Times.
  • In June, McAllen elected a Republican mayor for the first time in 24 years.

The big picture: The RNC is starting earlier than ever in its minority outreach ahead of midterm elections, Alvarez told Axios.

  • Since launching its first-ever Asian Pacific American (APA) community center in Rep. Michelle Steel's (R-Calif.) heavily Vietnamese district this June, the RNC has unveiled minority-focused centers around the U.S.
  • These include an APA center in Atlanta, a Black voter center in Cleveland and Hispanic centers in Milwaukee and in Doral, Fla.
  • It plans to launch additional centers in Orange County, California, and Atlanta by year's end.
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