EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – GOP leaders are turning to a congressman from Texas and one from Florida to bring new blood that will help the Republican Party win over more Hispanic voters.
U.S. Reps. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida, are spearheading the recruiting efforts backed by the new Hispanic Leadership Trust political action committee.
The new PAC comes to life as public opinion polls show President Biden’s popularity among Latinos has been falling since December and was last reported in early May to be just 26 percent. The Democratic Party is going into a 2022 mid-term election in November with rising inflation, high gas prices, a humanitarian immigration crisis at the Southern border and mixed messages about the lingering threat of COVID-19.
The trust “is going to raise a hell of a lot of money, we’re talking millions,” Gonzales said at the announcement of the PAC last week. “But it’s not going to be just about resources, it’s going to be about mentorship.”
Asked about the perception – augmented by President Trump’s 2016 campaign bluster – that Republicans and Latinos don’t mix, House GOP leaders say they intend to recruit good candidates and let them do the talking.
“This is about the best candidates, the quality candidates,” Gonzales said. “We have to keep all our Hispanic conservative members here, step one, and step two is finding great candidates and getting behind them.”
Gonzales, whose district stretches from Far East and Northeast El Paso to the outskirts of San Antonio, is backing South Texas congressional candidates Monica de la Cruz (TX-15) and Mayra Flores (TX-34).
“Hispanics are about God and family. That’s just who we are. It’s in our nature. We just never invested in the Hispanic community as much as we are now,” said Flores, a 36-year-old respiratory therapist born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, raised in South Texas and a naturalized U.S. citizen since she was a teenager.
Flores said Republicans have a high growth ceiling in South Texas. “I’ve knocked on so many doors and people tell me, ‘I’ve never met a Republican,’ and my story resonates with them, and it stands with what they believe in,” she said, adding that her Democratic-voting father unknowingly raised a Republican by instilling traditional Hispanic values in her.
U.S. Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez, R-Florida, a freshman House member, is tasked with keeping his seat and making further inroads in the Hispanic electorate.
“Hispanics have awoken to the fact that we do represent their values. We are about God, we are about family, opportunity, the rule of law and that’s the Republican Party,” the Cuba-born Gimenez said. “For years, the Democrats just took us for granted and kept going farther and farther to the left and away from the values most Hispanics hold true.”