WASHINGTON – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy convened the first round of Young Guns candidates in Washington on Wednesday — and he said the House GOP is recruiting its most diverse candidate class yet.
McCarthy, who could be poised to take the speaker’s gavel if Republicans win back the House in 2022, told Fox News that recruiting candidates with diverse backgrounds represents what he views as an expansion of the GOP brand across the country.
“In the last election, 15 Democrats lost. They all lost to a Republican woman, a Republican minority or a veteran,” McCarthy said. “And that’s even growing if you look at the number of women who are running, the number of Hispanic Republicans are running.”
“It just shows the party continues to expand and more opportunities in every area and in every city of America,” he continued.
Young Guns, which consists of high-potential Republican House candidates, started in 2007. The first round of the 2022 candidates includes eight candidates, all of whom have either previously served in the House or ran for a spot in Congress during the 2020 cycle.
“The Young Guns are the candidates that are the very best out there that we pick to take on Democrats,” McCarthy said.
The group of Young Guns, announced in November, consists of Bruce Poliquin of Maine; Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin, Esther Joy King of Illinois, Tom Kean Jr. of New Jersey, Amanda Adkins of Kansas, Ryan Zinke of Montana and Monica De La Cruz and Wesley Hunt, both of Texas.
Candidates who qualify for the Young Guns program get access to donor resources and are promoted by the National Republican Congressional Committee, among other benefits.
De La Cruz, who’s running to represent Texas’ 15th District in the Rio Grande Valley, said the effort she put into her failed 2020 campaign is already paying off this cycle.
“I’m honored to be part of the Young Guns program because what it means is that we are not only a district that is in the eye of the national party, but it shows that all of our hard work and our grassroots efforts from 2020 is paying off,” told Fox News.
Hunt, who lost to Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in 2020, is running in Texas’ 38th District, which formed as a result of the 2020 census.
“Sometimes when you lose, you really win, and it takes a lot of resilience, I think, to be in this business and to be in this game,” Hunt told Fox News. “But I’m here to fight and I’m an Apache pilot, West Point graduate, and these kinds of things like grit or something that are really important to me, we’re showing it right now.”
King lost in 2020 to then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, who announced her retirement earlier this year.
“Being in the Young Gun program is a representation of the grassroots momentum that we’ve built over the 2020 campaign and into the 2022 campaign,” King, a judge advocate general, told Fox News.
McCarthy said he expects more candidates to join the Young Guns.
“This is one of the very best crops, and this crop will continue to grow,” he told Fox News.