In 2008, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) became the only Asian-American in the Republican caucus. The GOP leadership quickly embraced him, with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) penning a memo titled, “The Future is Cao.” In May, another Asian-American, Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI) joined Cao, winning a special election in a heavily Democratic district. Now in the GOP caucus, in addition to Cao and Djou, there is “first-generation Filipino” Steve Austria, three Cuban-American members (Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen), and one Native American (Tom Cole). Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele has also said one of his major objectives is to increase diversity in the GOP.
Today, however, Politico reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) 2010 blueprint for winning back Congress leave Cao and Djou out in the cold. Republicans are pursuing an “offensive effort,” buying ads mostly in districts currently held by Democrats:
Cash-flush Democrats have used their deep pockets to invest in several competitive seats where national Republicans have yet to signal their intention to compete aggressively. The NRCC has so far bypassed a handful of open or otherwise reasonably competitive seats that offer some promise for GOP gains. […]
Notably, the NRCC has yet to announce plans to defend several imperiled GOP incumbents who rank high on Democratic target lists. Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii), Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.)—the two incumbents widely considered to be the most endangered Republicans—were left off the NRCC roster. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who is thought to be in better shape, was also not included.
Both Djou and Cao have occasionally broken from the party line, which may have angered the Republican leadership. Djou has criticized his party’s attempts to change the 14th amendment and supports efforts to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Cao was the only House Republican to vote for health care reform. Austria’s OH-7 district is also not on the NRCC’s target list.