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GOP Faces Uphill Battle for Minority Votes in 2016 Presidential Race by Wamara Mwine

March 23, 2015

GOP Faces Uphill Battle for Minority Votes in 2016 Presidential Race
By Wamara Mwine

wamara mwine
Wamara Mwine

( - Republicans enter the 2016 presidential race with confidence after reclaiming control of the Senate. Yet, the GOP’s failed minority outreach remains a looming problem. Without more women and minority votes electing a Republican President will be impossible.

Republican Ed Gillespie once said, “Minority Inclusion is a top, top priority.” The pledge was empty and complicated by embarrassing racial incidences. The latest episode is a real crisis within Michigan’s GOP.  RNC Committeeman Dave Agema refuses to resign after posting a white supremacist essay on Facebook. GOP leaders insisted he resign, but are now stuck with Agema until 2016.

Other high profile incidents have hurt GOP outreach.  First Lady Michelle Obama’s relatives were compared to an escaped gorilla by GOP activist Rusty DePass. The Facebook posting went viral nationwide. Illinois congressional candidate Erika Harold was called a “street walker” by former Montgomery County, Illinois Chairman Jim Allen. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called for Allen’s resignation, but the damage was already done. Harold lost the 2013 primary by 10 percentage points.

The Latino outreach has suffered in similar ways. Former Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo called the National Council of La Raza a “Latino KKK.” Yet, the largest Latino Civil Rights group in America has never lynched anyone. In 2013, Latino Republicans watched as Massachusetts Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez lost by 10 percentage points. Where was the GOP’s support pledged in the RNC’s autopsy report?

Former Republican Sophia A. Nelson emerged as a clear solution to the diversity problem. An African-American lawyer and active for two decades in GOP politics, Republican leaders failed to embrace Sophia’s skills and independent thought. Nelson’s professional support group was the GOP’s direct link to African-American women voters. In her 2009 article, “The GOP’s Last Chance,” Nelson addressed the alienation of Black Republicans while noting her departure. Sophia writes: “All of them were loyal and had much to contribute, but they were not given opportunity to advance within the party. In the end, they got tired.”

Instead, the GOP promoted Tara Wall. She became a “positive” megaphone for RNC leaders while their inclusion policies failed behind the scenes. I met Tara in 2013 at an expensive steak house. When I mentioned Black Republicans Paul Clinton Harris, Dylan Glenn and Nic Lott, who I featured in a 2005 Op-Ed published online, Tara was dismissive. “They are not true Conservatives,” she howled while finishing her steak. Wall boasted of lavish dinners and travel with Republican leaders. I concluded the GOP had found their way to Tara’s heart, through expensive meals and Martinis.

With her company aptly named Princess Tara Productions, it was clear there was no welcome mat at the RNC for Sophia Nelson. Meanwhile, Nic Lott lost Mississippi’s 34th District Senate seat runoff by just 68 votes in 2007. If the RNC were serious about outreach, Lott would be in elected office right now. President Bush’s “Brain” Karl Rove knew Nic, but failed to place him in a political or government role during 8 years at the White House. This was reality vs. the façade of inclusion.

Today at the RNC, Priebus has a small outreach group of ‘yes’ men.  Priebus’ combative approach to politics has these 20 something staffers ‘assuming the position’ when GOP racial incidents occur. As Black Media Director, Orlando Watson was burned in 2013 by a mistaken ‘typo’ in a tweet that used Rosa Park’s image to suggest racism was over. It was an embarrassing MSNBC interview that revealed a terrified young man caught in a stressful work environment, especially for African-Americans.

Raffi Williams was hired in 2013 for youth and minority outreach. He is the son of Fox News Commentator Juan Williams. Raffi and elder Williams are caught between a rock and hard place. Any criticism of the GOP’s outreach by Dad can negatively affect the son and vice versa. Raffi instead was coronated as one of the Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People. Raffi’s social life is a convenient distraction while keeping Priebus in the diversity driver’s seat unopposed.

To improve Diversity at the RNC:

  • “The Old Guard Must Go.” The days of Ed Gillespie and Tara Wall must come to a dramatic end if genuine diversity can take hold.  Wall is more of a novelty, displayed at the RNC house when it is convenient to maximize the illusion of diversity. Her role is not meant to move or advance any group. There must be a visible effort to put disenfranchised Black Republicans into leadership roles and not just posing for photo opportunities.
  • Establish ground floor standards of behavior: RNC bylaws must be re-written to enable complete separation between the GOP and behavior of Republicans like Agema, Depass and Tancredo. The hate talk must end collectively. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) should not have to go on national television to defend racial incidents like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) speaking at a white supremacist rally.
  • End repetitive misleading advertising and media grandstanding. Every so many years, Republican leaders will claim to have raised and spent millions on diversity recruitment. Republican pundit Peter Roff repeatedly publishes articles for U.S. News and World Report trying to anoint Ed Gillespie as some kind of civil rights leader. Where is the list of 200 (minority) candidates and 75 new office holders Gillespie boasted of? This is deceptive advertising and no journalist has asked where the $6 million dollar money trail ends. The Republican Party is already viewed as suspect in the black community. Presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) found that out when he spoke at D.C.’s historically black Howard University.

With the rash of African-American shootings involving police, Republicans have remained silent during national protests. Some Republicans have stooped to a new low by blaming President Obama for the Ferguson riots. America desperately needs new black leaders to address this current conflict, but the GOP has failed to promote them. As I noted on a XM Radio interview, the GOP, also mocked the “Grand Old White Party” must leave failed policies to capture this demographic requirement to win a national election.

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