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RubenBarrales.jpgA political action committee formed to help elect Latino Republicans to office in California has hired Ruben Barrales, a former White House aide and San Mateo County supervisor, to be its president and chief executive officer.

The group, GROW Elect, said in a prepared statement that Barrales' appointment "is part of an aggressive expansion" of its effort to elect Latino Republicans to local, state and federal offices.

The group last year involved itself mostly in local races and was a relatively small operation, spending less than $150,000. It was funded largely by Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy Republican activist.

The Republican Party has failed for years to adapt to the state's massive growth in Latino voters, a major contributor to the party's decline in California. Republicans hold no statewide offices, and Republican voter registration has fallen below 30 percent statewide.

"I have no illusions," Barrales said. "This is a long, long-term endeavor. But if we want to have more Hispanics voting for Republicans, you need more Hispanic Republicans running for office."

Barrales, a former aide in the George W. Bush White House and failed candidate for state controller, left his job as president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce for the post.

Barrales, 50, said the committee's fundraising goal "is to be at six figures and hopefully more than that as we get into 2014." He said the group's initial focus will continue to be on local candidates, and he said he isn't sure if the committee will back a candidate for statewide office in 2014.

"We're ramping it up," he said. "We're looking to build a network, the next generation of Latino leaders in California."

The announcement was praised in a prepared statement by Republican leaders including Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, the House majority whip, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

PHOTO CREDIT: Ruben Barrales. Twitter.com



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