Texas GOP discuss minority, youth outreach at Capitol

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Democrats have made better use of the term “diversity” in persuading votes from racial minorities than Republicans, Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen said Wednesday.

Nguyen spoke at Auxiliaries and Coalitions Legislative Day, a Texas Republican Party convention that focused on voter outreach at the Capitol.

“The Democrats use diversity as a way to engage the ethnic communities and obtain votes,” Nguyen said. “The Republicans tend to stay away from the word diversity, but I think a true understanding of diversity is very critical in our engagement strategy.”

Nguyen said the Republican Party needs to improve their engagement with minority communities and be more receptive to their concerns.

“Politics, no matter how you frame it, it’s a people’s business,” Nguyen said. “I have so many of my fellow Republican friends who try hard to engage to the ethnic communities, but instead of asking questions, instead of listening, they would begin to lecture, to debate, to argue about the conservative principles.”

A later panel at the convention focused on how the Republican Party can improve its outreach to young and minority voters. Suggested strategies ranged from using flash mobs for Republican events to inviting prospective members for happy hour at a bar.

Republican campaigning would be more effective if they focused less on social issues and more on fiscal issues and small government, said panelist Colton Duncan, president of Texas State College Republicans.

“My message is very simple — stop being so exclusive,” Duncan said. “This isn’t Fight Club, this is the Republican Party. Our message, if centered more around fiscal issues, if centered more around smaller government, that’s what people are wanting to hear.”

Panelist Chris Harvey, president of the MLK Association’s Houston chapter, said he sympathizes with racial minorities who are persecuted for their support of the GOP.

“You know, it’s hard, particularly if you’re a Republican of color,” Harvey said. “It’s hard because they think you’re crazy. I don’t mind being crazy, it’s fun. It’s out there. I (tell) the activists to keep your head up, keep going.”

After the panel, Duncan reiterated his critique about the GOP’s disproportionate focus on social issues and cited Senate Bill 6, or the transgender “bathroom bill,” which passed out of a Senate committee as an example.

“I’m actually pretty embarrassed (the bathroom bill) is ranked six,” Duncan said.

Duncan said “priorities are way off” and that issues such as public education and Child Protective Services deserve more discussion in the Texas House.