After receiving the great news that our Republican statewide candidates split or won the Hispanic American and Asian American vote this year, we have good news to report regarding our engagement efforts in the African American community. Historically, the African American vote leans heavily towards the Democratic side, and while that statement still rings true today, we are making significant inroads into the African American community here in Texas. Exit polls indicate that we doubled our amount of support among African American voters this election cycle when compared to what the national Republican ticket received in 2012. Senator John Cornyn, for example, received 15% of the vote among African American males. While this is a long way from our goal of obtaining the majority of votes in this community, it is a big improvement and step in the right direction. Moreover, new conservative Republican leaders from the African American community keep emerging. Two such leaders are highlighted below.

Will Hurd makes history

Will Hurd, the 37 year old Republican candidate for U.S. Representative, made history on November 4th when he defeated an incumbent Democrat to become the first Republican African-American Congressman from the State of Texas. When his term officially begins in January, he will represent constituents in Congressional District 23. CD-23 is a largely Hispanic district comprised of 29 counties, many of them on the Texas-Mexico border. Hurd, a former CIA Operations Officer, touted his background in national security as one of the reasons why voters should choose him over his Democrat opponent, as this experience positions him to make real progress in the border security issue that matter most to Texans. His numerous endorsements included one from former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. In an October press release, Gates was quoted as saying “Will [has served] our country on the front lines of the War on Terror, he knows the cost of freedom and you can count on him to take care of our veterans here at home.” Hurd, a native of San Antonio, graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and recently worked as an advisor to a cybersecurity firm.

Former Mayor to lead new club

Bill Lawrence, former mayor of Highland Village in North Texas, has recently been elected to serve as the first president of the Denton County Federation of African American Republicans (DFAAR). According to Lawrence, the newly formed club is dedicated to “promoting Republican ideals, asking Blacks for their support and growing the voter base.” An attorney and Vietnam Veteran, Lawrence made history in 2000 when he became the first African American to serve as mayor of Highland Village. He went on to serve three terms as mayor before mounting an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congressional District 33. DFAAR is also a chapter of the Texas Federation of African American Republicans (TFAAR), an official auxiliary of the Republican Party of Texas, which similarly seeks to educate African Americans on the views of the Republican Party in addition to identifying, promoting, and supporting qualified Republican African-American candidates who seek political office. Lawrence credits “similar values” as the reason for his long-time affiliation with the Republican Party. He believes the problems that continue to plague the African-American community under a Democrat administration, like double-digit unemployment, “opens the door of opportunity for Republicans.” A gubernatorial appointee to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the State Board of Professional Engineers, Lawrence holds a Bachelor degree from Tuskegee University and received his law degree from Indiana University.

African American Auxiliaries Active in 2014 Election

The Republican Party of Texas has two official auxiliaries whose prime mission is to engage with the African American community. The first is the Texas Federation for Republican Outreach, headed up by Bill Calhoun. The second statewide auxiliary, the Texas Federation of African American Republicans, is headed up by former Collin County GOP Chairman, Fred Moses. The membership of both of these groups were active in assisting our candidates, hosting conferences, sponsoring speakers, and organizing in the African American community.

The Future

The Republican Party of Texas plans to continue its engagement programs among all communities between election cycles. This is a first. We are optimistic that we will eventually reach our goal of obtaining a majority of the vote in every community.