With two consecutive presidential losses and an aging constituent base, figuring out how to win over demographics traditionally owned by Democrats is a question that has left Republican strategists and campaign managers with grey hair.
Although Republicans may need to make up ground before they can depend on women, youth and minorities to vote for them at the ballot box, the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference unveiled faces new to the national political stage that may serve as effective communicators to these traditionally left-leaning voters.
As a 31-year-old Hispanic and Italian female, New Hampshire State Representative and candidate for the U.S. Congress Marilinda Garcia may act as one of these messengers.
“It does not qualify me in any way and that is not why I am running,” Representative Garcia told The Daily Caller News Foundation shortly before she spoke on a CPAC panel about women and conservatism.
She said that the specificities of her atypical background alone did not make her more qualified to hold a seat in Washington: “Who can speak to a group of people better than someone who is amongst them? It is all about perspective. It is about understanding. Everything related to communication and effective communication has to do with points of relatability.”
“If my unique profile helps me achieve a better platform to be able to communicate our shared values, than I am happy to do that and I consider that an honor,” she added.
Garcia is already in her fourth term serving as a state representative in her home state of New Hampshire. She says that she never had any personal political ambitions until her friend suggested that instead of working for a campaign, she should run her own. She was only 23-years-old when she ran and was elected to her first term in the state House.
She was content serving at the state level until she began to notice the adverse effects the Obama administration had on one of the signature issues she focused on as a lawmaker — health care.
“I was very involved in working on healthcare reform in my state,” she told TheDCNF. “I wanted to make that market more consumer oriented. Citizens should be able to make decisions about those services like they do for everything else.”
“After working for four years on those issues it was very frustrating for me to see Obamacare take root and really just wreak havoc almost overnight to our healthcare system in my state,” explained Garcia. “We have so many people who were going to a specific doctor and now they have to travel three hours to find a provider. Premiums have skyrocketed everywhere. And in terms of the exchange there are really not options because we only have one insurance provider in our state so it has really created a monopolistic system.”
The unraveling of the health-care reform she had dedicated much of her energies to compelled her to campaign against the currently serving U.S. congresswoman from her district, Ann McLane Kuster.
Kuster — a Democrat — was not in Congress when Obamacare was voted into law, but she has stated publicly that she supports the Obama administration’s efforts to reform the healthcare system.
But before Garcia faces off against Kuster in the 2014 congressional elections, she needs to beat fellow Republican and current state senator Gary Lambert in the primaries. Lambert has a dual career as an attorney and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Aside from their obvious profile differences, they diverge greatly on certain policy issues — especially energy, says Garcia.
She was specifically referring to Lambert’s approval of a multi-state cap-and-trade program — the Regional Green House Gas Initiative — which involves admissions regulations and carbon taxes, among other regulatory burdens.
The prospects of a Republican winning back the district’s congressional seat will be decided by voters who have helped earn New Hampshire a reputation as a swing state. In other words, the election results could tilt either way.
If she does win an office on the Hill, she hopes to bring some of the sensibility that has allowed New Hampshire to balance its budget, maintain low unemployment numbers, and a high standard of living.
“We keep electing the same sort of people and achieving the same sort of results, which no one seems to be happy with… I thought I would throw in my hat,” said Garcia.
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