Sep 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House GOP's diversity bet

Illustration of people of color with one being examined under a magnifying glass.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

House Republicans are running more than 60 nominees of color on general election ballots nationwide, with Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) looking for a sequel to a 2020 cycle in which he more than doubled the number of GOP women in Congress.

Why it matters: McCarthy is trying to win back control of the House and ascend to Speaker. Every seat the Republicans flipped in the last cycle was won by a woman, person of color or veteran.

  • While the U.S. population is diversifying quickly, Republican officeholders and voters are disproportionately white.
  • Even with the Senate filibuster, the Electoral College and lifetime judicial appointments in place, Republicans risk getting sidelined if they don't expand their tent.

Driving the news: GOP House nominees this cycle include 29 Latino, 26 Black, six Asian American Pacific Islander and at least three Indigenous candidates, including challengers and incumbents combined.

Don't forget: In 2019, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), then the only Black Republican in the House, announced his retirement.

  • Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), elected in 2020, are now the House GOP caucus' only two Black members.

What we're watching: McCarthy last week stumped for John James, a Black Republican who will face Carl Marlinga, a white Democrat, in Michigan's 10th District. The Congressional Leadership Fund has also invested in the following candidates:

  • Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Black veteran, who faces first-term Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan, who is white, in Indiana's 1st Congressional District.
  • Juan Ciscomani, a Latino Republican and longtime adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who is running for an open seat in Arizona's 6th District.
  • The trio of Latina candidates in Texas: Monica De La Cruz, Cassy Garcia and Mayra Flores.
  • Lori Chavez DeRemer, who is running against Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is white, in Oregon's 5th District.

What they're saying: National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Tom Emmer told Axios, "What has changed is the emphasis on recruitment."

  • "It is amazing when you put the members to work looking in their own states for the people that are involved in the local chambers of commerce that have special attributes and histories, resumes that are coming forward."
  • "Once it gets started, like it did last cycle, I think it's like a snowball rolling downhill. It just picks up speed and it gets bigger and bigger."

Between the lines: Many Republican candidates are running against Democratic candidates of color. Not all are running in districts where they have a good chance of winning.

The bottom line: Democrats continue to outpace Republicans in terms of candidates' racial and ethnic diversity.

  • 97 Democratic nominees are Black, 50 are Latino, 18 are AAPI, and at least seven are Indigenous.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent $30 million this year to engage voters of color and other key constituencies.
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