Dissatisfied with what he considers a lack of diversity in the county's Republican party, a former political candidate wants to start a new local GOP organization to draw more minorities to the party.
Columbia lawyer Arthur Reynolds says he wants to "reach out" to individuals who have not traditionally been part of the GOP mainstream.
Figures show that last year, there were about 35,000 registered Republicans in the county, up about 10,000 from 1986. There were about49,300 Democrats, and about 12,000 people who listed themselves as unaffiliated.
"I think that every objective assessment of the Republican party in Howard County is that it does not tend to stress ethnic and religious minorities the way the Democratic Party historically has," said Reynolds, who was defeated in last September's primary fora District 13-B House seat by Marty Madden and John Morgan.
"Whenyou go to a Howard County Republican meeting, how many black faces, how many Jewish faces, how many Hispanic faces do you see? The answeris not enough," Reynolds said. "It's not that the party is bigoted; it's a question of perception and comfort level."
Reynolds is especially interested in attracting people who are unaffiliated with any party.
"This is a critical component of the electorate, these are the people I would like to see comfortable being Republicans," he said.
Reynolds stresses that he is operating independently and sees his organization as an alternative to the Howard County Republican Club and the Republican Central Committee. Carol Arscott, head of the committee, was unavailable Tuesday for comment.
"I'm not necessarilyattempting to split the party or in any way create friction," he said. "But if I felt -- and others felt -- that the party was currently mirroring the diversity in the electorate then the outreach that I amseeking probably wouldn't be necessary."
If his new Republican organization gets off the ground, Reynolds envisions it as having a more informal tone than the current Republican club.
"The local monthly meetings have tended to be boring, formal presentations and speech-oriented," he said. "I want this to be a place where people can bondand get to know each other. That to me is how you build an organization."