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The Brief: July 21, 2010

Hispanic Republicans of Texas made its public debut Tuesday. Even the group's leaders are even willing to admit that the political atmosphere could be friendlier.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Hispanic Republicans of Texas, a political action committee seeking to recruit Hispanic Republicans and promote them to office, made its public debut Tuesday. For the group, its leaders are even willing to admit, the political atmosphere could be friendlier.

The group, co-founded by George P. Bush (son of Jeb Bush), has launched at a precarious time for bridge-building between Republicans and Hispanics, with Arizona's controversial immigration law stirring anger within Hispanic communities nationwide. Even Texas, with a 37-percent Hispanic population, boasts zero Hispanic Republican members in its Legislature, and a recent Republican primary for a statewide position saw an incumbent saying his Hispanic surname cost him the election.

The group, which was formed in September and has since been raising money, is attuned to the tension. "We just need to do a better job of reminding our Latinos that Republicans don't have horns and don't all live in country clubs," board member Jacob Monty said at the committee's press conference Tuesday. "There are a lot of Latinos that share [Republican] values, and we need to do a better job of reaching them." 

The group's efforts run counter to the common portrayal of Hispanics, the state's fastest-growing minority group, as a sleeping giant of a political force set to benefit Democrats in future election cycles. But the committee asserts that Hispanics' generally conservative, and often Catholic, values often align more closely with Republican than Democratic values. "When you look at the value of education, the value of patriotism, the value of religion, the value of being pro-life — all of those are very Latino values," Monty said.

Democrats shot back Tuesday, saying bridges between the two groups had already been burned. "With Rick Perry facing the toughest campaign of his career, Republicans are trying to muffle the harsh anti-Hispanic rhetoric from the Texas Republican primary, the Arizona immigration debate and the Republican State Convention," said Daniela Santoni, a spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, in a statement. "Hispanics have not forgotten that Republican message. It was sent loud and clear."

Check out Tribune reporter Ben Philpott's report, his first in a three-part series on state Republicans looking to make inroads with Hispanics.

CULLED:

  • Kids struggling to learn their times tables might be comforted to know that, when it comes to math, Texas isn't doing so hot either, so says a new study on state education standards.

"My gut seems to be dictating this instead of my head. If my head was dictating it, I'd probably put the money into a trust fund for my kids." — Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, who, with his wife, Amber Anderson, have donated more than $1 million to state Democrats this election cycle

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