That headline, in 1 ½ inch letters bracketed by print-art elephants, ran in last Sunday’s edition of Northern Nevada’s largest daily newspaper. It trumpeted a two-page story about Washoe County Republican leaders hosting a meet and greet at Reno’s historic Coney Island Restaurant to welcome members of the Log Cabin Republicans, an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender conservatives. The occasion was a Nevada State GOP meeting last weekend which brought Central Committee members from all over the Silver State to the north.
The impetus for the event was an outreach policy set by the Washoe County GOP’s 24-year-old chairman, Adam Khan, who is interested in attracting Republicans of every age group, culture and sociological belief. He is determined to put an end to ignoring (or worse alienating) conservatives with different skin colors, sexual orientations, etc.
“Already since 2012, two million people who voted for Gov. Romney have died,” Khan said. “We need to make sure that this party continues to expand to as many voters as possible” he added.
Khan graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno where he headed up the College Republican organization. He has already run for a seat in Nevada’s Assembly and teaches at Rainshadow Charter High School in Reno.
Contributing to the success of the event was participation by Ed Williams, the 42-year-old chair of the Clark County Republican Party and president of the Nevada Log Cabin Republicans. Williams is the first openly gay chair of the Clark County GOP. He said: “If we don’t bring in our younger communities, our minority communities and start reaching out we are not going to grow as a party. And that is the essence of it. And Adam and I, we understand that challenge.”
Williams also stressed that LGBT Republicans can find common ground with the religious right because they oppose political correctness. “If you are going to put laws in place that force someone to bake a cake for a gay wedding, what is the difference (between) that and forcing a Jewish printer to print KKK literature?” he said. “The religious conservatives are concerned – and rightly so – that they will have political correctness forced upon them. That is not what Log Cabin (Republicans are) about. We are defenders of religious freedom and that is the core value for Republicans” he added.
If Khan and Williams were the architects of this enlightened policy your humble columnist was the engineer. As outreach chair for the Washoe GOP, I made the arrangements for the historic event and joined in welcoming our guests. This segue leads me into a presentation of the balance of the county GOP outreach plan. In addition to fostering a welcoming stance toward LGBT conservatives Chairman Khan has instructed me to develop a program to engage Latinos and members of the Washoe County faith community.
Many Latinos are naturally conservative. The community has a reputation for work ethic, family orientation, religion and a wariness of government. Unfortunately Harry Reid (D – NV) has fostered and funded a number of politically motivated organizations to steer Latinos to the Democratic Party The conservative Americans for Prosperity has established a non-partisan organization called “Libre” (trans: “free”) dedicated to encouraging Latinos to keep “free” of government handouts and pursuing Constitutional conservatism. Libre is in Las Vegas but cancelled plans to open in Reno. The Washoe GOP supports Latino business organizations and participates in many Latino festivals but a more effective method of engaging Latino voters is still under study.
The faith community is a natural source of GOP voters but churches, synagogues and mosques can’t risk their tax status by helping the GOP register voters. We are examining non-profit organization registration efforts in other states.
Conservatives should be encouraged that Nevada’s two largest county Republican parties have smart, youthful leaders determined to broaden the attraction of the GOP.
Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.