- Associated Press - Saturday, June 20, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two New Mexico state lawmakers have been named to a national Republican group seeking to recruit and train GOP candidates from diverse communities and backgrounds, the Republican State Leadership Committee announced this week

Officials said Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, of Los Lunas, and Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, of Kirtland, will join the Republican State Leadership Committee’s “Future Majority Project” and will help with a massive push to diversify a party amid changing demographics nationally.

“We are excited to get to work, recruit more candidates who can champion commonsense conservative principles and values that will move New Mexico forward,” Baldonado and Clahchischilliage said in a joint statement.

Baldonado is Hispanic, and Clahchischilliage is Navajo.

“Representatives Baldonado and Clahchischilliage will be a great addition to the Future Majority Project because both have done a tremendous job advocating conservative values to increasingly diverse communities,” said Debbie Maestas, chairwoman of the Republican Party of New Mexico.

The appointments come as the Republican State Leadership Committee announced this month the relaunch of the project, which recruited hundreds of new candidates and elected 43 new leaders to office over the last two years.

Earlier this month, former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon was named chairman of the project. Shannon was both the youngest and first African-American speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives when he was elected speaker in 2013. He left his post to launch an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate and now works for a Tulsa-based consulting firm.

Shannon will serve with co-chairs Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.

Martinez is the nation’s only Latina governor and has been outspoken on recruiting more candidates of color to the GOP. She also has asked candidates to tone down heated rhetoric on immigration.

The group’s new goal is to recruit 250 new, diverse candidates and see at least 50 of those elected to office, party officials said.

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