New Mexico GOP courting Latinos, Native American voters

In this Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 photo, Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Steve Pearce sits in party headquarters in Albuquerque, N.M., after unveiling the party's plan for the 2020 election. Pearce said New Mexico Republicans says they will embark on an aggressive strategy to win over Hispanic and Native American voters in 2020 as the party experiences it most diverse primary races in recent history.

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico Republicans will embark on an aggressive strategy to win over Hispanic and Native American voters in 2020 as the party experiences its most diverse primary races in recent history, state Chairman Steve Pearce said.

Pearce said the state party will appoint Hispanic and Native American outreach coordinators in all of the state’s 33 counties. He also is urging all candidates to travel to Democratic strongholds instead of just focusing on the GOP’s traditional base.

“I am excited about minority candidates saying more broadly for the first time, ‘I am Republican, and I’m going to run as a Republican,’ ” Pearce said. “That is pretty powerful.”

Native Americans and Latinos are running in two GOP primaries for U.S. House seats and for a U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico.

Anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, a Latina Republican and member of Navajo Nation, is seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Among her opponents are Louie Sanchez, a Hispanic shooting range owner, and college professor Gavin Clarkson, a member of Choctaw Nation. “This is something that is energizing to me because Republicans really have not done a good job at reaching into Hispanic communities,” Pearce said.

The Democratic Party of New Mexico has faced criticism for not reaching out to Hispanic voters enough and for maintaining mostly white leadership. Latino Democrats in the state Senate created a Hispanic Caucus in 2017 after fellow Democrats elected an all-white leadership team.

In 2018, however, New Mexico elected an all Democratic, all minority U.S. House delegation for the first time.

Asked what the party would do to reach out to Hispanic and Native American voters, Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Marg Elliston said it would seek to attract as many voters as possible.

Elliston also said the party was looking into hiring a Native American statewide outreach coordinator.

New Mexico has the largest percentage of Hispanic residents in the nation and a sizable Native American population.

President Donald Trump has said he intends to win New Mexico’s five electoral votes and his campaign has set up offices in the state.

Pearce said a Trump rally in September drew a diverse crowd of supporters.

Elliston said Democrats intend to focus on Trump’s past remarks about immigrants and other groups, which she said was based on “hate.”

Trump has drawn criticism throughout his presidency for making racist comments about Latinos, Muslims and other people of color.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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