Latin Post presents "Turnout," a series that features leading Latino politicians, government leaders and advocacy groups discussing and debating the most important issues facing the Latino voting bloc.

Listen to the "Turnout" Podcast with the Republican National Committee's Ruth Guerra & Jennifer Sevilla Korn:

Recognizing that 60,000 Latinos turn 18 years old every month in the U.S, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has been building its Latino and millennial engagement efforts ahead of the 2016 election.

RNC Deputy Political Director Jennifer Sevilla Korn, who oversees the committee's strategic initiatives -- which includes the Latino, Asian and African American, veterans and faith-community's vote, recognized that campaigns cannot be won approximately five months before an election and more grassroots efforts are required to gain better relationships with the electorate.

"The fact that we're starting a year and a half out from 2014 led to a lot of those successes that we saw because that ground game," said Sevilla Korn, highlighting a lot of the work "is not really exciting stuff," but it is going door to door and conducting thousands of phone calls that helps guarantee a vote. "That ground work that we laid in 2014, that is a great base for us that we're building on for 2016. The key is starting early, staying in the community and making sure that you're reaching all communities."

"One of the biggest things we can point to is our engagement efforts on the ground, how we have completely revamped the way our grassroot-effort works," said RNC Director of Hispanic Media Ruth Guerra. "We made a promise that we were going to be in communities that typically haven't heard from Republicans, and we have proved that over the 2014 cycle -- we were in Hispanic communities, Asian communities and African American communities across the country."

According Guerra, the RNC's Latino engagement efforts included concentration within 11 different states and more than 40 Latino staffers focusing solely on connecting with the community. The staffers would attend community festivals, meet with local chambers of commerce and faith leaders and make sure that the RNC was "truly addressing the concerns" of the Latino community.

Guerra and Sevilla Korn noted the RNC's efforts in Colorado for now-Sen. Cory Gardner, who defeated Democrat Mark Udall in November 2014. Sevilla Korn and Guerra highlighted Gardner's victory in Pueblo County, a heavily Latino area and typically a Democrat-leaning county. Guerra stated the RNC established an office to continue engaging with Latinos on a daily basis, and Gardner continued the engagements, which secured him a 4-percentage point lead against Udall in Pueblo.

"The biggest change that we have seen here at the RNC is that we've hired Hispanic, Asian, African American staff in target states [and] battleground states," stated Sevilla Korn, adding that the staffers are still active and working towards 2016. "Now we have these staff who have built great relationships in the communities, specifically the Hispanic community, who are still engaging with those communities and making sure we keep growing that effort for 2016."

"It's very important," Sevilla Korn said regarding the RNC's Latino outreach. "They're a huge voting bloc, and you see the increases every cycle. By 2050, Hispanics are going to grow from 16 percent of the population to 30 percent of the population, so that's very important that we make sure that we're reaching that community and for the Hispanic community, when both parties are fighting for the vote, that is good for our community.

Sevilla Korn said the RNC has been focused on reaching towards millennials -- making sure they are registered to vote but also educated on the issues. She stated one method to engage and educate voters is to connect with the RNC chairman, county chairman and elected officials.

"Once [eligible voters] meet our elected officials, then they talk about the issues and they understand what our party is about and we gain support," said Sevilla Korn. "We're going to be fighting for the youth vote, and we're going to be able to get good support from them."

"I think one of the things that we have been doing [and] that will continue to do is working with folks in College Republicans and making sure that we are talking to folks on campus because that is where folks spend the majority of their time," said Guerra, noting also, talking to young professionals in order to ensure millennials hear from Republicans.

Sevilla Korn noted millennials on campuses across the U.S. helped make sure Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott won their elections. She continued, "You can name a bunch of different elected officials that were elected and that was partly with the effort of the College Republicans. We do have a lot out there, and it's very important, millennials are very important, but I would say 2016 is going to be very competitive and we have to fight for every vote, which includes the youth vote."

A misconception about the RNC -- and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) -- is the assumption that the political committee controls every aspect of the political party.

"Across the street, what the Senate and the House does is purely policy; they are the ones who pass legislation. What the job of the [RNC] is to do is to set the ground game out in the field to do the politics, to actually do the electing and the reelecting of elected officials and we don't do policy," said Sevilla Korn.

Continuing about policy, "When you're talking about immigration -- there's so many issues that the Hispanic community cares about. When we're out in the field, and we are out there talking to voter to voter, one person at a time, Hispanics care about the economy, they care about education and, yes of course, they care about immigration. We have to talk about all of the issues, and I think we recognize here that the immigration system we have is broken, and we need to fix that but that is really something for the elected officials to do and we are on the other side trying to do the political ground game."

The current GOP presidential candidate field has a diverse pool with names such as Latino Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, African American neurologist Ben Carson and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, so far the only Republican female candidate.

"Our country is a democracy, and competition is great. The fact that on the Republican side you have such a diverse field of candidates is a great thing for our democracy, and we're not talking about just a coronation of one candidate like the Democrats are," said Sevilla Korn. "We really have a lot of views out there, and they're going to compete with each other, and the American people are going to be able to choose who their nominee is going to be and that is really great for our democracy."


For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: