The Republican National Hispanic Assembly is an American political organization founded in 1967 which seeks to promote Hispanic-American issues and interests within the Republican Party, and the Party’s interests and candidates within the Hispanic-American population. The group is partially an outgrowth of the Spanish Speaking Advisory Committee of the Republican National Committee, which itself was created as a response to successful efforts to attract Hispanic-American voters to the presidential candidacy of Richard Nixon.
1964 ~ present
In 1967, an informal meeting was held in Washington D.C by thirteen Hispanic-American men. As one participant, Francisco Vega, later recalled: “… the meeting came about by word of mouth… we were from Florida, California, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, and several other states….” The purpose of the gathering was to discuss how they could increase Hispanic political involvement.
Although all of men intimated some kind of affiliation with the Democrats, none of them felt especially attached to any political party. Having had their offers to organize some kind of Hispanic outreach rebuffed by both the Democratic and Republican Party’s national offices, the dejected group returned to their hotel. Eventually, the gathering dwindled down to five: Ben Fernandez, Manuel Lujan, Fernando Oaxaca, Martin Castillo, and Vega. These last attendees continued to talk, bonded over their common World War II service and political ideologies, and, eventually, formed the Republican National Hispanic Council. Fernandez was selected as its first president.
The next year, the name of the organization was changed to the Republican National Hispanic Assembly with Fernandez taking up the title of National Chairman. Without formal acknowledgment from the Republican Party, the group immediately began to organize chapters in their home and surrounding states. They also managed to raise more than $400,000 by the end of 1968 which they presented to astonished Party officials. Relations between the two political entities soon warmed considerably.
President Ford with Raul Espinoza, RNHA’s first executive director, at the 1976 banquet