Following the Democratic Party’s landslide wins in 2008, several members of the GOP leadership began to advise its membership to adopt a more inclusive approach to minority voters — specifically Latinos. However, Latinos in McLennan County recently had the door shut in their face by the Republican Party itself.
Members of the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County have made it their mission to reach out to Hispanic, black and young adult voters in the area that have been largely ignored. However, shortly after the group’s launch party, the McLennan County GOP leadership blasted out an email stating that the club “is not sanctioned by, nor is it affiliated with, the Republican Party of McLennan County.” The email’s claim that the club was also not endorsed by the state GOP’s executive director was quickly refuted by a document in which then executive director Eric Opiela personally authorized the club to work on behalf of the party.
McLennan County’s Republican Party lacks precinct chairs in about 40 precincts and the club is trying to get those chairs filled by Republicans. County GOP leader M.A. Taylor questions “the club’s strategy of recruiting precinct chairs” and criticizes conservative activist Janet Jackson who he describes as “the driving force” behind the club and “a pain in our backside.” However, Jackson believes that Taylor is simply worried that more precinct chairs might “dilute” the McLennan County GOP’s current leadership. Taylor was also skeptical of the club wanting to start a “Web site thing and have Hispanics subscribe to it,” stating that the “whole approach puzzles me.”
Robert Aguilar, chairman of the local Tejano Democrats group isn’t too worried. “They’ll get some people,” says Aguilar, but the GOP’s positions on immigration and other issues will dampen their success and, according to him, the Democratic Party offers a stronger platform for Latinos and other minorities. Aguilar points out that, ultimately, “Most Hispanics are still struggling for safety, security and health needs…the Republican Party can’t see what’s happened to us because they don’t live in our neighborhoods.”