August 5, 2005


GOP wants urban voters (David M. Brown, , August 5, 2005, Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW)

Republican leaders on Thursday used Pittsburgh -- a city controlled by Democratic elected officials for seven decades -- as an example of where the GOP hopes to expand its membership with minorities and inner-city voters who traditionally align more with Democrats.

"We believe there are many people that populate these urban cities that are Republican-leaning," said Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Jo Ann Davidson. "We're not giving up on the urban centers."

Davidson, a former Speaker of the House in the Ohio Legislature, said Pittsburgh also was chosen as the site for the RNC's annual summer meeting, which started yesterday, to underscore the importance of Pennsylvania in national politics and show support for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's re-election bid next year. [...]

The theme of the conference is "Give Us A Chance, We'll Give You A Choice: Strengthening Lincoln's Legacy."

Mehlman, who became chairman in January after managing President George Bush's re-election campaign last year, has made several speeches articulating the GOP's "outreach" objective to broaden the party's base.

"Everybody is excited about it," said Eileen Melvin, of Somerset, the Pennsylvania Republican chairwoman. "Ken Mehlman is providing fabulous leadership on that front by growing the party."

A strategy session yesterday included a panel discussion about ways the GOP can attract more blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other groups. Many of the 280 conference participants from all 50 states attended the discussion. The meeting was closed to the press.

One of the panelists was Harrisburg City Councilman Otto Banks, a black former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party early this year. Banks, who is seeking re-election in November as a Republican, said he spoke in the session about how he became attracted to the GOP because the party offers blacks "a choice to become captains of our own ship, so to speak."

"They are going to give us a choice between opportunity and oppression," he said. "That resonated with me."

It's a project that the candidacy of Lynn Swann could help greatly, not least in Pittsburgh.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 5, 2005 9:04 AM
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