The Downtown Houston Pachyderm Club featured former State Rep. Dr. Martha Wong at their weekly meeting yesterday. Wong certainly did her part to keep the club’s reputation of having thought provoking speakers intact. Too bad that the leadership of the Harris County Republican Party wasn’t there, they might have learned something.
Wong’s presentation was in support of the recently formed Texas Asian Republican Assembly. She began with a few statistics to remind Republicans why we need to reach out to minority communities.
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We’ve all heard that and seen it in one form or another. Wong emphasized the changing demographics by noting that if every single white person in America voted Republican in 2040, Republicans still could not win the presidency without convincing some minorities to vote with us. And we aren’t even close to having every single white person in America vote Republican.
Taking it specifically to Texas, she had these numbers:
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Note the increase in percent of population for Hispanics and Asians, and the decrease in percent of population for Whites and Blacks.
Turning specifically to the Asian vote, she pointed out that the highest percentage of Asians are in urban and college areas: Austin/Round Rock/San Marcos, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston/Sugarland, and Bryan/College Station. That emphasizes the relative youth of the Asian population.
Many people have the idea that Asians are traditional Republican voters. That might have been the case at one time but she gave us these statistics to show the turnaround from Republican to Democratic votes:
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Why are Asians moving to the Democratic Party? Wong reminded us of Rush Limbaugh mocking the Obama campaign’s targeted commercials and involvement in specific demographic communities but said that those appeals directly to the communities worked. We many not like the concept of targeting different groups but it appeals to those groups.
She did offer a bit of optimism at the national level, telling us that RNC Chair Reince Priebus has hired two Asians at the national level and funded the hiring of an Asian working for the Republican Party of Texas. And she also mentioned the support of RPT Chair Steve Munisteri and his help in forming the Texas Asian Republican Assembly.
After explaining the problem, she talked a bit about what the TARA is doing. They are taking advantage of the existing Asian media outlets both with paid advertising and by submitting stories about Republicans and Republican elected officials. They are also reaching out to Asian ministers, advising them on what they can and cannot do in the political arena without losing their tax-exempt status. And lastly, they are providing speakers to Asian organizations, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
And then it was time for the old “what can you do to help?”. Interestingly, Wong didn’t beg for money, focusing instead on personal relationships. Everyone has an Asian friend, neighbor, co-worker, or acquaintance. Send those names to the group and the group will begin compiling a database and contacting them directly. She said it was especially important for elected officials to make their presence known at various Asian events and meetings.
Wong stated flat out that elected officials have been the biggest hurdle she has faced. She told an anecdotal story about Democrat Congressman Al Green attending a meeting and literally taking over the podium and inviting all Democrats in the room join him on stage. Green has two staffers that ensure that his presence is at every meeting of the Asian community even if he cannot attend and they always bring official proclamations from Green.
Wong said that she cannot get cooperation from Republicans to do the same. She specifically called out Rep. John Culberson, saying that she has tried to get him interested hundreds of times but he refuses to engage with the Asian community. Pretty sad if that is true.
If you are an elected official, Wong’s group will even provide people to go and stand in for you, for free, IF you ask. But you have to ask.
All in all, it was a good meeting, even if sobering. I said earlier that no one from the HCRP leadership was in attendance but that isn’t quite true – no one from Jared Woodfill’s staff was there. Bonnie Lugo, State Republican Executive Committee rep for Senate District 13 was there, along with a few precinct chairs. Wong also gave a specific shout out to SREC rep for SD17 Tina Gibson for her help in forming the Texas Asian Republican Assembly. Tina’s husband Mike is chair of the Fort Bend County Republican Party. The Harris County Republican Party doesn’t have to go far to see a growing county party.