March 13, 2014

Two women could lead the GOP to big victory in 2016

Governors of Oklahoma and New Mexico offer hope.

Roll call at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) this past weekend was the first audition for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum were all on hand talking passionately about their ideas, experience and why they should lead the charge to take the White House back in 2016.

The Reaganesque effort to expand the party base to include more gender and ethnic diversity is still in the hands of the guard that led our effort in 2012.

In that year’s presidential election, President Barack Obama received 70 percent of the Hispanic vote and 90 percent of the black vote; 55 percent of women voted to re-elect the president.

It does not bode well for the Republican Party if we continue to select the same types of candidates. To mount a winnable strategy, we must change our tactics and leadership.

The Republican governors from Oklahoma and New Mexico have compelling success stories that will resonate and transcend the partisan divide of the last four presidential election cycles.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has an impressive fiscal record of cutting taxes, reducing unemployment and protecting the 2nd Amendment. She worked to balance the state budget in light of a $500 million deficit and lowered the income tax rate.

Proving her dedication to job creation and economic improvement, Fallin developed a statewide energy plan to promote development of Oklahoma’s abundant natural resources. This plan is the first of its kind in the state.

Fallin displayed great leadership by addressing rampant neglect at the state’s veterans’ centers, overhauling the War Veterans Commission and calling for increased oversight of the centers.

Committed to government efficiency, she combined or eliminated more than 75 task forces, boards and commissions in a single year. She also developed a plan to modernize Oklahoma’s largest turnpikes and instituted an aggressive program to replace structurally unsound bridges.

Susana Martinez of New Mexico made history in 2010 by becoming the first-ever Latina governor in the United States. She has a long list of accomplishments.

She worked to turn the largest budget deficit in state history into a surplus without raising taxes. She reduced taxes on businesses and helped facilitate a positive regulatory environment for job creation through her support of the New Mexico Jobs Package.

She led the effort to amend New Mexico’s tax code, ending penalties against manufacturers for exporting their goods. As a result of this initiative, New Mexico ascended from 38th to first in the nation in export growth.

Martinez pursued aggressive educational reforms, cleaned up corruption and increased transparency in government, all while working with a legislature controlled by Democrats.

She is leading the most comprehensive GOP Hispanic outreach effort in the country through the Republican State Leadership Committee, recruiting minority and female candidates to run for statewide offices as Republicans.

Martinez and Fallin offer the nation a southwestern firebrand of conservatism that would transcend political partisanship and mitigate gender and ethnic alienation that has been evident in the last three election cycles.

They should comprise the complete GOP presidential slate in 2016.

They are exactly what our country needs and what the presumptive Democrat nominee fears most.

Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, represents northern Bexar County in the Texas House of Representatives. lyle.larson@house.state.tx.us

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