A Tale of Two GOP Minority Outreach Strategies

In recent elections, Henry County has become yet another metro-Atlanta county to gain battleground status. Indeed, Mitt Romney won Henry in 2012 with only a 3,000 margin out of over 91,000 cast, down from a 6,500 vote margin for John McCain in 2008.

Despite this shift in electoral math that will undoubtedly effect the margin Donald Trump may or may not have in Georgia come Election Day, Trump’s Henry County Co-Chair seems to believe that minority outreach is a waste of time.

As Jessica linked to in the Morning Reads, USA Today has an article up yesterday that spells out the hopes of Georgia Democrats in becoming competitive during the current general election cycle. Here’s former State Senator Jason Carter responding to questions about the viability of the Clinton campaign in Georgia:

“I think it’s clearly a battleground state,” says Jason Carter, grandson of the former president and the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee. “I think that we are undeniably in play today.”

Responding to Carter’s assertion, current GAGOP 1st Vice Chair Michael McNeely (who has announced he will be seeking a promotion to Chairman at next year’s convention) rejects the notion that Georgia is in play.

“We’re not a battleground state,” says Michael McNeely, first vice chair of the state Republican Party. “We’re a very conservative, red state, and we will continue to be so.”

The article goes on to highlight the GAGOP’s bullish view on Donald Trump’s chances at not only winning Georgia, but indeed winning a historic 20% of the African American vote. The state party’s Director of Minority Engagement, Leo Smith, told USA Today that the party would be planning “more editorials from minority surrogates,” and “additional advertising on black radio stations and publications.” This answer was preceded by a curious rationale for voters unsure whether to vote for Clinton or Trump:

“Is the devil that has already proven to be the devil the one you want to choose, or do you want to choose possibilities?” he said. Clinton, he says, “is the mistress of oppression, she is the system itself.”

Enter Donald Trump’s Henry County Co-Chair, Kimberley Dial. Her response to a question about Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric towards minorities and minority outreach in general went something like this:

“They weren’t voting Republican anyway,” she says. “They want free, and that’s why they’re Democrats. And so he wasn’t going to get their vote even if he didn’t offend them.”

Contrast that response on diversity within the Republican Party with comments at a UGA College Republican event last night that Jon live tweeted and summarized in a Facebook post. At the meeting, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston asked the college students attending to not give up on the GOP. After discussing several policy proposals coming before the General Assembly next legislative session, Ralston urged the GOP to not become the party of ‘old, angry, straight, white guys.’ He went on to say that new people coming into the party can be achieved by having a positive, solution-focused vision for the future. Ralston assured the attendees that the politics of personal destruction that many feel has become commonplace in the current election cycle was not what our state or the nation is all about.

If the GAGOP, the Trump campaign, and the other Republicans across the state want to expand the GOP and welcome in new voices, new perspectives, and new voters, it seems pretty clear to me which approach is desperately needed and which is doomed to fail.


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