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Stewart: After Loss, GOP Needs to Listen to Minorities

By Potomac Local News November 15, 2012 7:41 am

5 Comments

By COREY STEWART 
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAIRMAN 

Demographics. That’s the word I’ve seen over and over this past week as the pundits try to diagnose what’s wrong with Republicans. Last week’s presidential election certainly indicates that my party has a problem reaching minority voters. It’s a problem we must address, but the solution is not, as many suggest, to jettison our core principles to accommodate changing demographics. In fact, I think the answer is much simpler.

In the last six years I’ve won three countywide elections in Prince William County, including winning 72 of the County’s 77 precincts just one year ago. During that same time John McCain and Mitt Romney were losing the county, badly.

According to the 2010 census, Prince William County has a majority minority population. African Americans, Latinos, and Asians make up more than 50 percent of the county’s population. Those are three groups of people that Republicans are losing nationally. And that’s why some say the GOP must quickly embrace amnesty, gay marriage, and abortion-on-demand if we’re ever going to reach the demographics that Romney lost last week.

The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, does not need to overhaul its governing philosophy, but we do need to make changes in how we reach minority communities. In 2008 Barack Obama started and ended his general election campaign in Prince William County. He came back twice during the 2012 campaign. But, where were Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, especially late in the campaign? The Romney campaign had to cancel one planned stop in the county, but it would have been to an area that is heavily white and strongly Republican. Why not go to a place where you have a chance to persuade people?

As I’ve campaigned and governed, I’ve gone all over Prince William County. I’ve attended celebrations at local mosques, talked with people at ethnic grocery stores, enjoyed black church services, and shaken hands at commuter parking lots. The people of Prince William County are a snapshot of America. They represent the broad range of racial groups and social classes, and I’ve never written off one group or another.

What is this?

I believe in the principles of a free market, a limited government, the rule of law, good governance, and individual responsibility, and I share those ideas with people from every walk of life. That’s why I’ve never questioned the value of going to the neighborhoods, churches, and businesses of voters who belong to a demographic that Republicans historically have not won, and listening to what they have to say.

Before Republicans consider major changes to our platform, let’s first get back to basics. Voters expect to be asked for their vote. And flashy TV ads and glossy flyers don’t make up for the lack of a personal touch. If we intend to ask people for their votes we need to go where they are, tell them what we believe, and listen to their concerns. The GOP must respect minority communities and not blow them off by never visiting their neighborhoods. When candidates do that, voters feel ignored and disrespected. For me, showing people a long-term commitment starts by going where they live, shaking their hand, looking them in the eye, and telling them how the principles I stand for will produce benefits that flow through their neighborhoods, regardless of their skin color.

I’ve done that, and you know what I’ve often found? Agreement. Time and time again I’ve met minority voters who agree with me, even on issues like gay marriage, abortion, and the enforcement of immigration laws. By suddenly changing our positions on these issues we could actually be walking away from common ground we share with large numbers of minority voters. I’ve also found, from my conversations, that even when we don’t agree, there are countless minority voters who have supported me over a Democratic candidate, because they know that I will represent them, that I will listen to them, and that I’m genuinely interested in the issues that concern them.

It would be a big mistake for the Republican Party to change our principles. But we’re already making a bigger mistake by not taking our principles to minority neighborhoods and talking about them with voters we should be winning. I know it sounds simple, but it’s time Republicans start showing up and demonstrating a real commitment to everyone we hope to represent.

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  • Alan Truelove

    from yr supporters in Fairfax:
    The US will go Half-Hispanic by 2050 or so; there is no alternative but to get in bed with (& take orders from) La Raza. THis means amnesty and further vast increase in legal Hispanic immigration. The coming Latino-Euro US coalition will hopefully preserve US economic etc values, and prudently regulate immigration. The time to give up was Nov. 6th.

  • John

    Here is a list of the “Republicans” that were on the 11 congressional district ballot last week:

    -One of the former congressmen started us on this road to infinite debt and was in the class of GOP congressmen responsible for turning VA into a Blue state

    -A defense lobbyist who previously worked on a Democrat’s campaign and avoided answering every question that was thrown at him

    -A Clintonesque moderate whose campaign used dirty, unethical, underhanded tactics to disenfranchise the Grass roots GOP activists and undermine his conservative opponents during the Primaries and Caucases

    If the GOP doesn’t want to go the way of the Whigs, they need to start supporting real conservatives, not just any politician who happens to have the biggest donors.

    A lot of voters who would have voted just sat home. Obviously they didn’t want to vote for Obama. The GOP should be asking themselves why they didn’t want to vote for Romney either. Instead, you all seem to once again be trying to ignore the 800 lb gorilla in the room – You will not win by nominating faux conservatives whose only difference with their Democrat counterparts is that they would rather give the Keynseian welfare checks to the defense industry.

    And I question whether a Supervisor who voted to give his county the largest property tax rate in the region, then goes on to spin it as the “lowest property tax bill in Northern VA” knows enough about conservative values to be writing an editorial on them.

  • John S Gray CPA

    Corey Stewart has unmitigaqted GALL to write (if he even wrote this himself) “…my party has a problem reaching minority voters. Its a problem we have must address”. Hello pot? This is the kettle. YOU’RE BLACK. I’m not commenting on his position regarding illegal immigrants. Illegal is illegal cut & dry, but his reliably hyperbolic rants are easily construed as against all Hispanics, legal or otherwise . But this guy is the one who appeared before the group known as “VOICE” which pertains to affordable housing issues in PWC and he offended them with a diatribe against abortion! He’s told lower income individuals to “move to Stafford or Spotsylvania”. Several years ago, he stated he watned the average house value in PWC to be over $400,000. Stewart has offended every ethic and racial minority group in PWC to the point he is identified as a racist. And he has the audacity to claim he works in minoirty neighborhoods, the he recognizes the RP has a “problem”? Locally, he is the personification of that problem.

  • Pingback: Stewart To GOP: Don’t Change Our Principles | Virginia Virtucon

  • Anti-Moonhowlings

    Mr.Gray,

    Sounds like sour grapes to me over your twice failed attempts against Corey Stewart.

    Corey has done an outstanding job in PWC and will continue to lead as our Lt Governor.

    John scurry back to your left wing nutjobs over on Moonhowlings who attack conservative men and women in PWC who don’t agree with their left wing agenda and then claim to be fair and impartial. The biggest hypocrite is Elan Schloss berg who writes and attacks females and males who stand up to her and her minions.