A group working to elect more female and non-white Republicans to state-level offices is claiming victory after an election night in which thirteen of their endorsed candidates won elections.
The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) helped elect candidates to the New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia state legislatures through its Right Leaders Network. Candidates participating in the initiative, which helps prepare female, minority, and veteran candidates for state-level campaigns, were responsible for winning five out of the Republican Party’s seven flipped seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. As a result of these victories, the GOP will retake control of the House of Delegates after ceding it in 2019.
Those victories were a result of both a beneficial political environment for Republicans and strong candidate recruitment, RSLC Political Director Kamilah Prince told the Daily Caller.
“People are just fed up … with the Democrats moving so far to the left,” she said, describing state legislatures as “the last line of defense” for conservatives. While many candidates do originally decide to get involved in politics because of national issues, Prince emphasized that “all politics is local,” so successful candidates are good at “really taking what connects with that community to be successful.” (RELATED: Republicans Take Education Fight To Voters With Congress Slow To Act)
“We’re able to block and stop a large number of things that the national Democrats are doing. And so you have more interest.”
New candidates have expressed interest in running as Republicans at both the state and federal level, giving the GOP a deeper bench. More than 850 candidates have declared to run in the 2022 midterms, ensuring that voters will have plenty of options to choose from as Republicans seek to take back the House of Representatives and the Senate.
At the state level, the RSLC has “been ramping up our efforts to recruit candidates,” President Dee Duncan said on a conference call with reporters on Nov. 4. Those candidates are running on “true kitchen table issues impacting people’s day-to-day life,” he added.
State-level candidates have sought to find local angles to key national issues, such as education, crime, and the economy, both Duncan and Prince emphasized. Oftentimes, new candidates do have some experience participating in community issues, Prince said, adding that familiarity with the political process is helpful when running a campaign. Those candidates understand “the time and the energy and the effort that it takes” to be successful.
In the Virginia campaign in particular, winning candidates were particularly successful in nationalizing issues through the “lens of things delegates actually voted for,” Duncan noted.
Those candidates were able to hammer home the message, “my delegate is like a Washington liberal,” he said. (RELATED: House GOP Campaign Arm Adds 13 Democratic Seats To Its Target List)
Candidates recruited at the state level matter for the future composition of the party, so attempts to make the GOP more diverse and working class will first be felt at the local levels, members of the Right Leaders Network’s advisory council said during a roundtable discussion shortly before the Virginia and New Jersey elections. The Nov. 3 elections were a crucial step for the party’s female candidates, since nine Republican women flipped seats in the New Jersey and Virginia statehouses.
“Authenticity is what comes with the right messenger,” Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson said of female candidates. “I think people, especially voters, they respect people who are themselves and who fit their district and who meet those needs. I think ultimately you talk about the message and how important that is. We obviously have to do a good job of getting that message out but people really respect authenticity and I think that comes with the right messenger.”
Prince expects the RSLC’s successes to continue into 2022.
“In New Jersey, we had 100% of our Assembly seats. So everybody, in the six seats we flipped, all of them fall into our Right Leaders Network, half of the candidates being women, one of the candidates being LGBT,” she said. “These are big wins. These are numbers that shouldn’t be forgotten.”