DENVER - The Republican Party is expanding its Hispanic outreach in the Southwest, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of its two Hispanic governors in the region and win back a part of the country that has been trending Democratic.
The party is hiring six new staffers to work with Hispanic voters in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. On the presidential level, three of those four states have shifted solidly into Democrats' column since 2004, fueled partly by Hispanic voters angered by some GOP politicians' stance on immigration.
The outreach effort is part of the Republican National Committee's effort to combat that drift and expand the GOP beyond its mostly white base by engaging with minority communities.
Some Republicans are particularly optimistic about the Southwest because the region boasts the nation's only two Hispanic governors, both popular Republicans -- Susana Martinez in New Mexico and Brian Sandoval in Nevada.
But it also boasts former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, an immigration firebrand who is considered the front-runner in a four-person primary for the Republican nomination for governor in Colorado. Many Republican leaders fear that a nominee like Tancredo could set the party back in its attempts to appeal to new voters.
The hires bring the number of states in which Republicans have paid staffers reaching out to Hispanics to 10. The staffers will speak to Hispanic voters regularly and attend community events and forums.
"Long-term, face-to-face contact between voters and volunteers from the same community is the best way to inform and motivate Hispanics voters to get to the polls," Sandoval said. "The RNC's effort is extremely important and a step in the right direction to help Republican candidates make gains in our communities."