The Republican National Committee has opened a community center in one of Oklahoma City’s bluest districts to connect with more Hispanic voters.
The new center in south Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill neighborhood is part of the GOP’s strategy to reach more Hispanic residents with conservative values.
Pam Pollard, Oklahoma Republican National Committeewoman, said the community center isn’t just a bid to register new Republican voters, but is part of the GOP’s permanent outreach strategy.
“It’s definitely an outreach that we hope to continue, not just for any election, but permanently,” she said.
The Oklahoma City center, located in a former storefront, is one of 32 Hispanic community centers the Republican National Committee has opened nationwide.
“This is a new track that the RNC is going on — sharing our message more directly to the people and to the voters. This is a long-term investment with us,” Pollard said.
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Appealing to Hispanic voters is important to the GOP’s continued dominance of Oklahoma politics. Hispanics made up 19% percent of the population in Oklahoma County in 2020, a more than 41% increase since 2010, according to U.S. Census data.
Capitol Hill is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and leans Democratic today. Democrat Arturo Alonso is the newly elected state Representative for House District 89, which includes Capitol Hill, after winning a three-way Democratic primary in June. There was no Republican candidate in the race.
Alonso said the district is a “good reflection” of the Democratic party, filled with working-class families that want better health care and education. But he said the Republican community center is still a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
“It is making sure we do have access to what is going on politically, making sure that people know where to go vote, how to vote and doing it in an informed way,” Alonso said. “overall, it will benefit us in a Democratic community because more engagement will lead to better representation.”
Pollard said that support for anti-abortion legislation and reform of U.S. immigration policies are key issues that Hispanic residents have brought up at the Capitol Hill community center. The community center is offering U.S. citizenship classes as one way to do outreach.
“We are holding these classes to help people become legal immigrants. The Hispanic and Latinx community has worked very hard and have a tremendous amount of pride of what they have done to become an American citizen and to see other people just be able to walk across the border, is not right for them,” Pollard said.
Donald Trump gained Hispanic voters in some parts of the country in the 2020 election. U.S. Hispanic voters include many diverse groups with different political values, but some polls have shown that a majority identify as Democrats or independents who lean Democratic. Gallup survey data from 2021 found that 26% of Hispanic voters identified as Republican or independents who leaned Republican.