Young Republicans Demand GOP Diversify

Posted: Dec 10, 2008 2:49 PM

Nearly 150 young conservatives gathered to discuss the future of the GOP on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening.

Somehow one hard-charging Washington DC conservative has managed to do what has been talked, whispered and worried about within the GOP for years: attract black and Hispanic Republicans to the party.

Princella Smith, who works for Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions during the day but said she felt the urge to “do something” after the disastrous 2008 election organized what came to be known as “the meeting” for like-minded persons who wanted to get together.  By circulating an email invitation to her friends, 150 under the age of 40 Republicans showed up Tuesday evening at the Capitol Hill Club to talk. And one thing was clearly on their minds.

“It’s hard to be black and Republican! Can I get a witness?” said Shannon Reeves, a black Republican who works for the Republican National Committee and said he has been mocked as “baby Bush” in his hometown. 

Smith, a young black woman, said she had "enough" of people complaining about outreach and encouraged her friends to start doing it.

Shannon Reeves

Several other black Republicans in the crowd shouted “Amen!” in response. (For reference, there were more black Republicans at this meeting than this reporter has seen at any GOP political event.) Reeves spoke on a panel with six others about how to use technology for political outreach.

Darrell Jordon, of, said if he could give every audience member an assignment he would tell them to “learn something about some minority group.”

“You can’t teach what you don’t know and you can’t lead where you won’t go,” echoed Reeves.

Tech guru Patrick Ruffini applauded the effort, citing the recent GOP win in Louisiana where upstart Ahn “Joseph” Cao, a Vietnamese American, unseated the disgraced Democrat William Jefferson in a heavily Democrat district. “Funny things happen when you campaign everywhere,” Ruffini said.

The meeting also attracted Maryland's state party chairman Dr. Jim Pelura and Republican National Committee Chairman hopeful Saul Anuzis. Many of those attending worked in the Washington area, although one woman stood up to say she drove all the way from New York to attend.

The upcoming GOP Chairmanship race was also a popular topic. A poll was conducted to see who the group favored. Former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele won overwhelmingly, followed in order by Chip Saltsman, current Chairman Mike Duncan who tied with Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawon and Ken Blackwell.

The group plans to meet again with the intention of finding a way to make young and minority conservatives voting members of the Republican party.