Gabriella Muñoz, Washington Times, September 4, 2019
Young Kim is exactly the kind of candidate Republicans are counting on as they try to convince voters that they are more than a party of whites and older Americans.
Ms. Kim is running for a House seat in Orange County, California, looking for a rematch of the race she narrowly lost last year amid questions of Democratic ballot harvesting.
If she wins next year, she will become the first Korean American Republican in Congress and will be a valuable voice as the party seeks to reclaim territory in the suburbs, which last year helped usher them into the minority in the House.
“GOP used to be known as ‘Grand Old Party’ — you know, old, white male dominant,” she told The Washington Times. “But that’s not the case. Look at me and look at other females from other ethnic groups, other demographics. I think it’s important to redefine what GOP stands for. And I like to say this is a Grand Opportunity Party.”
Republicans are desperate to shed the white image, particularly after Democrats fielded a stunningly diverse set of candidates last year that proved to be an antidote to the Trump-fueled GOP. Republicans had a number of female and minority candidates, but they, like Ms. Kim, were defeated.
The last remaining black House Republican, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, announced his retirement, and even the House Republican recruitment chair, Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, said she will leave Congress next year.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House Republicans’ campaign arm, says it won’t be deterred as it tries to expand its candidate pool.
“Chairman Tom Emmer has made it his priority to ensure that our new Republican majority in 2020 will better reflect the makeup of our country. We’re off to a great start with 101 women, 78 veterans and 73 minority candidates already filed to run,” said Chris Pack, communications director at the NRCC.
He said Republicans have at least 17 minority candidates in 55 districts they are particularly targeting.
“They’re looking for people that don’t have voting records. That don’t have a lot of government experience. Folks that don’t look and sound like the status quo,” he told The Times.
Mr. McLaughlin said one of Republicans’ best tools to ramp up recruitment is their fight against socialism, which they say Democrats will usher in if they succeed in the 2020 elections.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told reporters that a fight against socialism is helping Republicans win over college-educated women, particularly in suburban districts. Weighing the risk of losing private health care and the potential effects on the economy, Ms. McDaniel argued, is helping “move them back” to supporting Republican candidates.
Ms. Salazar plans to do just that in her Florida race.
She told The Times that her family’s story — fleeing from Cuba after the rise of communist dictator Fidel Castro — has given her a personal understanding about the impacts of socialist policies.
She and Ms. Kim will likely face questions about Mr. Trump’s immigration rhetoric, which his critics say is anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic.
“Trump has not picked the right words in many occasions, but he has picked the right policies,” Ms. Salazar said.
The Republican focus on identity politics is perhaps an odd fit for a party that has traditionally criticized the practice.
He said one way to gauge Republicans’ optimism about their chances to win back the House is to look at former members considering another run. One of them is David Valadao, who held his California seat for three terms before losing last year but is eyeing a comeback.