Chicago Tribune

A GOP Not for ‘whites only’
Chicago Tribune

What’s the most overlooked, underappreciated story from the midterm elections? The surprising new racial and ethnic diversity of Republican congressional and gubernatorial winners. Republican contenders-of-color had a history-making night, which helps undermine the notion that the GOP is becoming a whites-only party.

For example, South Carolina’s Tim Scott and Florida’s Allen West became the first African-American Republicans to be sent to Congress from their states in more than a century. They also are the first black Republicans to join the House or Senate since Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003.

Cuban-American Marco Rubio of Florida was elected the Senate’s only Hispanic Republican, since Florida’s Mel Martinez retired last year. In the House, Idaho’s Raul Labrador, Florida’s David Rivera, Texas’ Bill Flores and Francisco Canseco and Washington state’s Jaime Herrera will join re-elected Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart for a record total of eight Republican Latinos in both chambers.

Among governors, Republican Susanna Martinez won New Mexico’s race to become the nation’s first Latina governor-elect. Republican Nikki Haley became South Carolina’s first female governor and the nation’s second Indian-American governor after Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, also a Republican.

Rubio, West, Scott and Haley, among other conservative candidates of color, were endorsed by Sarah Palin and backed by the tea party, eroding the charge that the tea partiers are running a whites-only movement.