In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) unveiled a special edition of its "18 in '18 Races to Watch" report on Friday highlighting candidates of Hispanic heritage running for state-level offices across the country.
The report denotes rising stars from eight geographically diverse states—including California, Wisconsin, and Florida, among others—that are "critical to helping protect and grow" the ranks of the Republican Party. Listed in the report are both incumbents and first-time candidates with a wide array of qualifications for elective office.
The candidates were recruited in part through the RSLC's Future Majority Project and Right Women, Right Now initiatives, which specialize in identifying and supporting ethnically diverse and female candidates, respectively. Since the launch of the dual initiatives, the RSLC has spent more than $18 million to elect 98 Republicans of diverse descent and 386 women to state offices across the nation.
In a statement released to accompany the report, RSLC President Matt Walter asserted the Republican Party wouldn't be as formidable on the state level if it were not for the diversity of its candidates.
"Republicans at the state level would not be reaching historical highs, without the growing diversity of our party," Walter said. "As we celebrate the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, the RSLC is bringing attention to outstanding Future Majority Project and Right Women, Right Now candidates of Hispanic heritage running in critical races."
The RSLC was founded in 2002 to help down-ballot Republicans tap into the fundraising caliber needed to wage competitive and successful races. In recent years the group has far outpaced its partisan counterpart, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), in terms of fundraising. In 2016 alone, the RSLC raised and spent over $38 million on state races, compared to the DLCC's $19 million, according to Center for Responsive Politics.
The fundraising prowess of groups like the RSLC contributed to the GOP's ability to flip 958 legislative seats from Democratic control during the Obama administration. Currently, the Republican Party controls 67 out of 99 state legislative chambers and has total control of state government in 25 states.
Former Gov. Luis Fortuño (Puerto Rico), an RSLC board member, expressed he was proud of everything the organization was doing to support the "emerging faces of the Republican Party."
"As a board member of the RSLC, I am incredibly proud of what the Future Majority Project has done to support Hispanic candidates who have made the decision to run for elected office and generously serve their fellow Americans," Fortuño said. "The 18 candidates featured in this edition of the ‘Races to Watch' list embody the emerging faces of the Republican Party and serve as a great example of the continuing contributions of the Hispanic-American community during Hispanic Heritage Month."
National Hispanic Heritage Month officially starts on Sept. 15 and will run through Oct. 15.