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Barrales to Head Gop

Barrales to Head Gop

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Published by: Editor on Feb 22, 2013
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By Mark Walker Feb. 22, 2013 San Diego Union TribuneRuben Barrales, former head of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, has been namedpresident of a fledgling Republican political action committee in California focused on recruiting andelecting Latinos.
“My approach is going to be to focus on the basics,” said Barrales, who on Thursday was publicly named
as the first presiden
t of GROW Elect. “What we need in California is to develop a cadre of leaders at thelocal level and then nurture that group.”
 Barrales is described by the group formed in 2011 as key to its plans for an aggressive statewidefundraising and candidate recruitment effort.The former aide to President George W. Bush said he wants to raise several hundred thousand dollars togive the group the clout to make a difference.He readily acknowledges the challenges: Latinos overwhelmingly backed President Barack Obam
2012 re-election bid, and polling indicates that a majority in California are more inclined to supportDemocrats, primarily because of long-standing GOP resistance to immigration reforms.The GOP also has no statewide office holders, and its members comprise slightly less than a third of theroster in the state Assembly and Senate.
“There is no answer and no quick solution to the challenge,” Barrales said. “But if we talk in a positive way
about the issues people care about and are actually affecting their lives, then I think we can start to make
a difference.”
Barrales envisions building a broad support network for Latino Republicans. The best candidates willconnect by focusing on fiscal responsibility and addressing issues important to all Californians.
“From my perspective, health care and education are huge issues, as are economic
related issues,”Barrales said. “For candidates at the local level, it will be things such as public safety and basic services.”
 Barrales said not much has changed since he ran for state controller in 1998, garnering 33 percent of thevote.Some party leaders urged the faithful to get behind his candidacy, pointing to him as an example of thefuture and stressing the need to support Latino Republicans. The response, he said, was lukewarm.
“I don’t know if 15 years later the party has made much progress,” said Barrales, who served six years as
deputy assistant to Bush and as White House director of intergovernmental affairs.GROW Elect claims it has helped get 30 Latinos around the state into office since it was formed, mostly inmunicipal posts.The organization spent just a few thousand dollars on each of the races it got involved in last year. Itraised most of its money from GOP mega-
donor Charles Munger Jr., who’s given
the group $112,500since October 2011.GOP Assembly Leader Connie Conway, who gave the group $10,000 in December, said she believes
Barrales will be instrumental in “building a strong bench for Republicans.”
 San Diego County Democratic Party Chairwoman Francine Busby dismissed GROW Elect as posing littlethreat.
“Democrats have a strong bond with the Latino community because we support the issues and valuesthat are important to them and their families,” she said.
The county’s Republican Party recently name
d a Latina, Francis Barraza, its executive director andincluded recruitment of Latino candidates on her task list.The 50-year-old Barrales announced his resignation from the chamber in September after running the3,000-member organization since 2006. He was replaced by former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.The son of Mexican immigrants, Barrales served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in the1990s, and been recognized three times by the Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the 100 mostinfluential Latinos in the country.

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