Republicans, cognizant that they had a dismal record with minorities in the 2012 election, have created a new nonprofit organization called Insight which will target minorities, attempt to launch their careers in Washington and help them flourish once they get there.
Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), who was the chairman of the Republican Conference while he served 8 years in the House, is going to run the program, which also plans to host a series of public policy gatherings. The program is due to launch on February 27.
Watts, who is African-American, said:
It’s really not a matter of having African-American or Hispanic or Asian or Native American candidates or female candidates. We cheapen the accomplishments of a Tim Scott when we as a party say, ‘Oh, look at Tim Scott!’ Or, ‘Look at J.C. Watts!’ Or, ‘Look at Colin Powell.’ … There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to connect the dots.
Stacy Barton agreed. As the only African-American Republican chief of staff in Congress, and having started on the other side of the aisle through a fellowship program offered by the Democratic Congressional Black Caucus, she commented:
This is the kind of thing that’s sort of been going on on the other side for quite some time. The assumption was that if you were African-American, you’d be exclusively interested in Democratic offices. … I always tout that program as a huge success … Something like that on the Republican side is critical. In a way we haven’t given people the opportunity to hear our worldview. We’re certainly not trying to indoctrinate people, but I think it’s an important piece of the puzzle for Republicans moving forward.
Members of the Senate who have been named honorary co-chairmen include: Tim Scott of South Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. House Honorary co-chairmen include: Jon Runyan of New Jersey, Steve Chabot of Ohio, Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Jack Kingston of Georgia and Scott Rigell and Randy Forbes of Virginia.
Insight will join with the Black Republican Congressional Staff Association, the Hispanic Conservatives Congressional Staff Association and The Heritage Foundation to forward their agenda. Watts summed it up succinctly: “You want people in the pews that look like the pastor. If you look at the pastor, whatever color the pastor is is usually the color most of your people are going to be. … If you’re going to grow anything, there’s one central thing that’s important for growth: relationships.”