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The GOP's Latino outreach director in Florida defects to the Democrats: The fallout
The official blames the "culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party"
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in March that the GOP would send hundreds of workers into minority communities to improve the party's standing with voters.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in March that the GOP would send hundreds of workers into minority communities to improve the party's standing with voters. JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters/CorbisJONATHAN ERNST/Reuters/Corbis
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emocrats have been having a rough week, as the Obama administration finds itself facing tough questions about the Justice Department's spying on the Associated Press, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative nonprofits, and the ongoing investigation of the administration's handling of Benghazi. On Tuesday, however, liberals got a chance to celebrate, as the GOP faced the embarrassing revelation that its outreach director in the heavily Latino state of Florida had quit... and registered as a Democrat.

It gets worse. The official, Pablo Pantoja, wrote a letter saying he made the move because he believed there was a "culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party." This is particularly problematic since GOP leaders have made a very public effort to bounce back from their November election losses by reaching out to Latinos, blacks, and other minorities.

Pantoja specifically cited a recent controversy over a Heritage Foundation analyst who argued that Latinos have lower IQs than native-born white Americans. "Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions," Pantoja said, "other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo." Conservatives shrugged off Pantoja's defection, if they addressed it at all. And predictably, says Meredith Jessup at The Blaze, "liberals are having a field day with this news."

The glee was indeed clear on liberal blogs. Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars put it in particularly colorful terms. "Moral: Wingnut Republicans are wingnut Republicans, and normal people are normal people, and never the twain shall meet," she said. "This guy turned his back on a high-paid, high-profile job and burned his bridges. That's how bad these people are."

Pantoja's defection also has potentially significant and symbolic political implications. "This may just be one individual," said Steve Benen at MSNBC, "but for the RNC's minority outreach efforts, it represents a major step backwards." Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos went farther, saying that Pantoja's flight signaled that the GOP had abandoned its effort to win over a broader coalition of voters and beat Obama and his fellow Democrats at the polls. "They're in perpetual scandal mode," Moulitsas said, "and will be the rest of President Barack Obama's term."

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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