A group of Asian Americans is starting a grassroots effort to garner support for the Republican Party and its candidates, saying the GOP most closely aligns with their core values including family, education and entrepreneurship.
The group, the Asian Republican Coalition, is co-founded by international investment banker John Ying, who during the 2012 presidential election cycle served on the Republican National Finance Committee.
“We need a forum, and this first step will go a long way,” Ying told FoxNews.com earlier this week.
He hopes the effort, which will include a May 6 kickoff event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., will provide a “friendly front door” for both potential voters and Republican lawmakers and officials.
While much of the Republican Party’s focus has recently been to trying to connect with Hispanic voters, considering Democratic President Obama won 71 percent of their vote in his re-election victory, Asians are the country’s fastest-growing ethnic group, according to a 2012 U.S. Census report.
However, over the past three presidential election cycles, Asians have increasingly voted Democrat: 73 percent for Obama compared to 26 percent for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012; 62 percent for Obama compared to 35 percent for GOP nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008; and 56 percent for Democratic nominee John Kerry compared to 44 percent for GOP winner George W. Bush in 2004.
“How did the Republican Party lose us?” Ying asks.
Part of the problem, he concedes, is that Asian Americans have been “shy” about engaging in this country’s political process and as a race is a “complex,” non-homogenous group speaking lots of different languages.
Though the Asian population in the United States is estimated at roughly 18.9 million, indeed their turnout for presidential election cycles is relatively low.
Just 3 percent voted in 2012, compared to 72 percent for whites, 13 percent for blacks and 10 percent for Latinos. And Asian turnout was a mere 2 percent in the previous two presidential cycles.
With group co-founder Thomas Britt, who specializes in mergers and acquisitions with China, Ying and his group have talked with the Republican National Committee and recently made the rounds on Capitol Hill, trying to connect and reconnect with Republican lawmakers.
“No question, the Asian-American community is one of the fastest growing demographic groups,” said Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller. “It is critical that the men and women of this community have their voices heard in the upcoming elections. The ARC will play an important role in ensuring that this community is well represented.”
Ying made clear his group is “obviously interested in the 2014 and 2016 elections” but emphasized members, at least for now, want to focus only on “broader issues.”
“We’re step-by-step type of people,” he said.
Ying repeatedly says the group is focused on family, education, entrepreneurship, personal freedom and “merit- and work-ethic driven opportunity.
The group — a 501 (c) 4 tax-exempt nonprofit — is also trying to make clear it is open to all Americans, including those who might be married to an Asian or do business in Asian markets.
“We want to broaden the footprint beyond bloodlines,” Ying said.