Indiana GOP aims for more diversity with new leadership class

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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Adding more diversity to the Indiana Republican Party is the goal of the Indiana Republican Diversity Leadership Series.

Photo Courtesy: Indiana Republican Party

WANE 15 told you about the series back in July 2020, when the party first made the announcement. The series is a training program that will increase the engagement of minority Republican leaders in Indiana. The inaugural class will graduate on Friday.

Emery McClendon of Allen County is among the 15-graduates. He is a self-described conservative Air-Force veteran and has worked for the Republican party for decades.

“It’s quite an honor, I tell you what, especially for my age, when I first applied and I talked to them, I told them ‘I probably won’t get accepted because of I am one of the oldest ones’,” McClendon said.

McClendon ran for the vacant seat for the Allen County Council, 4th District back in June of 2020. He told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that his experience with lobbying “for the conservative cause” and winning awards such as the American for Prosperity Activist of the year award in 2010, the Outstanding Hoosier Award, and the Outstanding Activist Award for the Tea Party Patriots helped him gain a spot with the inaugural class.

“A lot of times, people try and go out and do things on their own without having support,” McClendon said. “You need support, you need people to help you and show you the ropes,” McClendon said. “ I’ve been doing this since the days of Reagan, but it wasn’t until the tea party movement started that I actually started making a lot of connections that could help me get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.” 

The inaugural class is 15-minorities including, Blacks, Hispanics, women, and a White male, pro-gay activist.

Inaugural Class of the Indiana Republican Diversity Leadership Series

Democratic State Representative and Vice President of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, Rep. Earl Harris Jr. said it’s “interesting”, because the value of the minority vote has come into play.

“I hope it goes along the lines of having some valuable impact on the GOP party, minorities having influence and an impact on incentives,” Rep. Harris Jr. said. “It would be hugely beneficial if say, someone out of this class of GOP members becomes a future State Representative or Senator. I think that would be great. The Black Caucus is not Democrat only. Granted, that’s how it is now. But the Black Caucus would welcome them. We actually had a conversation about what would it be like to have Black GOP members part of the Caucus.”

The series will help open doors for minorities, teach them the ins and outs of the Republican Party, and allow them to move up in the ranks. The program prepped students on what it takes to win elections, how to run an election campaign, civic engagement, communication, and learning the structure of the Republican Party from national to county levels.

“One of the tips they gave us was get to the point, state your point, get back to the point, state your point and make sure they understand your point,” McClendon said. “A lot of times, when people make speeches and people present things, they talk about everything around what they are talking about, and they never get to the point and then sell people on what they are actually talking about.” 

According to McClendon, the most intense project was creating and presenting a piece of legislation that could pass that would benefit minorities in the state of Indiana. 

The classes are set up to be two-way communication between participants and elected officials from across the state and country. Some of the politicians that gave guidance included Governor Eric Holcomb, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, the Department of Education, and differently lobbyist and attorneys.

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