As the 168 members of the Republican National Committee head to Los Angeles for their spring meeting — a visit meant to illustrate the party’s commitment to broadening its reach even in the bluest of states — Chairman Reince Priebus announced two new hires who will focus on stepping up the party’s efforts to engage voters in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
The hirings of Stephen Fong as a national field director and Jason Chung as a national communications director are the first in a series of changes that will be announced this week as the party’s members debate actions intended to reverse their losses in the 2012 presidential race.
One of the greatest challenges facing the party is its shrinking share of votes in minority communities across the country. Exit polling from the November election showed that members of the younger and rapidly-growing Latino and Asian American communities favored President Obama over Mitt Romney by about 3 to 1.
“It’s no secret that Republicans have ground to make up among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. To earn voters’ trust, we must be present in their communities,” Priebus said in a statement announcing the hires.
The chairman said that Fong, a California native, would lead a team hired by the RNC “and rooted in the communities they serve to engage people where they live, work, and worship.” Chung, who has spent 15 years working with Republican candidates in Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia, will oversee outreach to Asian and Pacific Islander media.
“We’ve made a commitment to being a party for every state, every community, and every neighborhood. This is one of many steps toward keeping that commitment,” Priebus said.
Much of the discussion among RNC members gathering in Hollywood Wednesday will center around the recommendations in the recently released Growth and Opportunity Project report, a blunt assessment of the party’s problems.
In addition to structural changes that will be discussed this week — such as shortening the primary season, reducing the number of primary debates and holding the national convention earlier in the summer of presidential years — the report’s authors warned that unless the Republican Party makes a serious effort to win over minority voters, “we will lose future elections.”
Over the past few months, Priebus has led a “listening tour” that included stops in Brooklyn to speak with African American leaders and in East Los Angeles, where he met with Latino business leaders.
When asked about Republican deficiencies among Latino voters during his February visit to Los Angeles, Priebus argued that the party has failed to create a long-term presence — or impression — in minority communities.
“If you don’t ask for the order, you’re not going to get the sale. Quite frankly, you have to show up and ask for the order,” Priebus said when asked about Republican losses among Latinos last year. He added that while Republicans “were playing footsie with each other, debating 23 times” last year, Democrats were spending more than $150 million on voter data and outreach in communities across America.
“That makes a big difference and I think that’s the place we need to go,” he said.