WILLIAMSBURG, Va.— When it comes to House seats with no Republican incumbent, nominations in special elections and even some controversial situations, the National Republican Congressional Committee will not get involved.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, who was recently elected NRCC chairman, vowed neutrality in contested nomination battles. He spoke to Human Events Thursday afternoon during a break from the House Republican retreat.
“It’s not our job to do that,” Walden told us. “I’m open to talking to any candidate for Congress, but it is the local parties that should be involved [in nominating Republican candidates].”
Another reporter asked a follow-up question, about the upcoming special election in South Carolina’s 1st District and whether Walden and the NRCC had any problems with the candidacy of controversial former Gov. Mark Sanford. Obviously aware of Sanford’s internationally-watched admission of an extra-marital affair in 2009 and subsequent divorce, Walden made clear the national party would back the former governor if he becomes their nominee. Pressed as to whether he felt Sanford’s past would not be a problem in the special election, Walden said: “He has to convince local Republicans of that.”
Walden also said the committee would step up its outreach efforts to women and minorities. He recently announced that Rep. Jamie Herrera-Butler of Washington State, the youngest woman among House Republicans, and Oklahoma Reps. Tom Cole and Markwayne Mullins, both native Americans, would be leaders in these efforts.
“When 50,000 Hispanics a month are reaching voting age, we have to reach to them with our message,” he said. “We have good answers, but bad communications. That’s the major problem.”