Small government, free enterprise, personal freedom, and an entrepreneurial spirit are the core of Republican philosophy, but how we communicate this and who communicates it is crucial. As an Irish Catholic, I've seen my share of politicians at St. Patrick's Day parades and Knights of Columbus halls, and there's no doubt that voters relate more readily to candidates with whom they identify.
In only the last few years, national messengers have emerged from state-level office – including Senators Rubio of Florida and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez – who have not only led in the legislative and policy arena, but have also advanced the GOP's reach in some of the most effective ways. It's a dynamic we need to see more of, and it does not happen overnight.
Studies have shown that sometimes, you just need the right person to ask a qualified candidate to run.
A 2011 study by professors Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox reveals that among several reasons why more women don't run for public office, not being asked is one of them. A gender gap exists in recruiting that favors men over women by 7 to 10 percentage points. Whether the suggestion to run comes from someone outside of politics or someone inside, more men than women are being encouraged to seek public office. Republican leaders need to do a better job of encouraging, supporting, and training new and different candidates for office.
Fortunately, the groundwork is underway and already producing results. In 2011, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) launched the Future Majority Project (FMP) – a long-term, sustained initiative that commits significant contributions of time and resources to support and elect women, African Americans, and Americans of Hispanic and Asian descent to state offices.