GOP Backs Away From Its Bright Young Stars of Color

They're just not conservative enough.

By Jamilah King Aug 18, 2010

Despite RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s often desperate efforts to add some color to an overwhelmingly white GOP caucus, it looks like the party’s leadership is already abandoning some of its brightest young stars of color. And the slights may have everything to do with the young politicos’ occasional breaches across party lines on some of the year’s most talked about issues, including healthcare reform, gays in the military, and the 14th amendment.

Yesterday, Think Progress reported via Politico that the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) 2010 blueprint for winning Congress noticeably omits Reps. Joseph Cao and Charles Djou. Cao, a Louisiana lawmaker, was the caucus’s first Asian-American member in 2008, and even got top notch support from House Minority Leader John Boehner, who penned a memo titled "The Future is Cao." Djou joined Cao last spring after beating the odds in a heavily Democratic Hawaiian district. The two were seen as having opened the door for a crop of young, Republicans of color who soon followed, including first generation Filipino Steve Austria.

Now, both lawmakers are facing tough re-election bids in their home districts, and there’s little evidence to show that they’ll get any help from party leaders. Republicans are going on the offensive heading into November, buying billboards and ads in districts currently held by Democrats. But the gesture hasn’t extended to Cao and Djou, reports Politico:

Cash-flush Democrats have used their deep pockets to invest in several competitive seats where national Republicans have yet to signal their intention to compete aggressively. The NRCC has so far bypassed a handful of open or otherwise reasonably competitive seats that offer some promise for GOP gains.


Notably, the NRCC has yet to announce plans to defend several imperiled GOP incumbents who rank high on Democratic target lists. Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii), Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.)–the two incumbents widely considered to be the most endangered Republicans–were left off the NRCC roster. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who is thought to be in better shape, was also not included.

Amanda Terkel at Think Progress speculates that the cold shoulder may be due to Cao and Djou’s occasional breaks with the party line on the year’s high profile issues. Djou’s openly criticized his party’s efforts to re-examine the 14th amendment and supports a repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." And Cao was the only House Republican who voted in favor of health care reform.