Continued from page 1

In South Carolina, Mrs. Haley, an Indian-American seen as one of the party’s rising stars, is favored to become the state’s next governor, and two black Republicans - Ryan L. Frazier in Colorado’s 7th Congressional District and retired Lt. Col. Allen West, in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District - are looking to oust incumbents in areas that backed Mr. Obama in 2008.

Mr. West told The Washington Times that Republicans have allowed black communities to be taken over by “a voice of victimization, a voice of dependency.”

“I think what you are seeing now are folks that are breaking away from that and saying, ‘We can live a different way,’ ” he said.

Mr. Frazier seemed to agree.

Republicans “have not historically engaged in a way that has been constructive in minority communities,” he said. “That has been a challenge for the party, but I think it is also an opportunity with this election to engage in these respective communities on issues that are important to people: jobs and the economy; a fiscally responsive government; an accountable Congress. These are issues that speaks to folks regardless of race.”

Republicans in recent years bolstered their minority ranks by electing Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal as the first Indian-American governor in 2007, New Orleans’ Anh “Joseph” Cao as the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress in 2008, and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele as the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2009.

Following his election, Mr. Steele promised an “off the hook” public relations campaign aimed at younger voters, including young blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party’s principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

Asked this week about the number of minorities running on the GOP ticket, RNC spokesman Doug Heye provided a list showing that the number of black candidates has gone from 12 in the 2006 election to 15 this year. He also said that since mid-September, Mr. Steele has held eight fundraising events for black candidates, including for Mr. Scott, who is vying to become South Carolina’s first black Republican congressman since Reconstruction.

Meanwhile, there are nine Hispanics challengers running for House seats - five of whom GOP insiders think have a shot at winning.

Despite the optimism surrounding the party’s minority candidates, some political observers say Republicans hurt themselves by pushing laws targeting illegal immigrants that some view as anti-Hispanic and by embracing the “tea party.”

Tea party activists have largely focused on financial and spending issues, but they have also toppled some establishment GOP figures in primaries and has been denounced for harboring some “racist elements” by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

But Mr. West, the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent Rep. Ron Klein in Florida, said in an interview that the tea party movement deserves credit for helping to put some candidates of color on the map and that the opposition charges of racism are attempts to cut down the movement.

“I believe that is one of the messages you see coming out of the 2010 election cycle is a GOP establishment that is being challenged by common, grass-roots Americans, and you are seeing the success of people like Marco Rubio or Nikki Haley,” he said. “These are people that would pretty much not fit the GOP establishment paradigm for a candidate.”