Watts said he hopes his organization can help his party build up its outreach to ethnic minorities.
Chamberlayne, an African-American who now runs his own public relations firm, said Insight could help create a new grass-roots community of minority Republican congressional staffers that could boost the GOP long term, although he conceded that the real solution is to recruit and elect more candidates from ethnic backgrounds for them to work for. Still, what Watts is doing could help diminish the Republican Party’s stigma within minority communities.
“What J.C. is doing is helping to repair that bridge and build a bridge,” said Chamberlayne, who also advised then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., on minority outreach.
Rodell Mollineau, a former Reid aide who now works for the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, lauded Watts for his effort and said the former congressman’s new group is a positive development for those interested in encouraging ethnic diversity on Capitol Hill. But Mollineau questioned whether Watts would be successful given that minorities tend to identify as Democrats, particularly since President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.
“As an African-American I welcome all different venues for bringing more diversity to Congress and the administration,” Mollineau said. “But people come to Washington, D.C., to work on issues they believe in, and Congressman Watts needs to ask himself whether he can find minorities willing to fight for the things the Republican Party stands for.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.