Former Bush White House aide Ruben Barrales – also a former San Mateo County supervisor, and a child of Mexican immigrants – will be the first president and CEO of GROW Elect, a group founded in 2011 to recruit, endorse, train and fund Latino Republican candidates in California.
The organization says Barrales’ hiring is part of an aggressive expansion of its plan and a dramatic increase in its funding.
Barrales for six years served as President George W. Bush’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, the White House’s senior representative to state, local, territorial and tribal government officials. He liaisoned with governors, mayors, state legislators and other elected officials, and also separately served as a chairman of the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status.
Barrales was elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 1992 and served as the board’s president 1996. He ran for state controller in 1998 but lost to incumbent Democrat Kathleen Connell. He served as president and CEO of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a San Jose-based public-private civic organization, from 1998 to 2001.
Most recently Barrales has served as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO – the largest regional chamber in California, with a full-time staff of 26 and an annual budget of $4 million.
GROW Elect has elected 30 Latino Republicans to local office across California since 2011, it says; among the successful candidates it supported in November were incumbent Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves, incumbent Hercules City Councilman Dan Romero, Dublin-San Ramon Services Board Member Edward Duarte, and incumbent Hayward Unified School District Trustee Luis Reynoso.
“GROW Elect has already made a difference in California,” Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day said in the group’s news release. “With Ruben’s leadership it will take the recruitment and support of Latino Republican candidates to a new level.”
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, said in the news release that this news is “long overdue.”
“We all have a stake in the work of GROW and Ruben Barrales,” McCarthy said. “We are all better served when there is a vigorous and real two-party system, with candidates vying for the votes of, and seeking to represent, all Californians. I’m grateful for Ruben’s dedication to both empowering the Latino community, and strengthening the Republican Party, in California.”
State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Walnut, congratulated Barrales as well and said GROW Elect “has done tremendous work in electing Latino Republicans to local office and I look forward to continuing my involvement with this organization.”