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Diverse conservative candidates should run for office. Here's why

It is important that there are many conservative candidates running for office. Here are the reasons.


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“Nikki who?” 

This was my first response when I ran for the office of South Carolina representative. My background as an accountant and small businesswoman was what I knew at that time. It was difficult to make one dollar, but it was easy for government to seize it.  

2004 was the year. This race was to win a place in the State House of Representatives. And the opponent was the longest-serving member of the state legislature – a 30-year incumbent who everyone said was destined for reelection.  


However, the Palmetto State people were looking for someone different. Someone who wasn’t a member of the traditional boys club. It was evident when they trusted me to be their first Indian American state legislature legislator and, a few years later, their first female governor and minority governor in South Carolina.  

Many people came to know me. More importantly, they knew the time had come for conservative solutions – solutions that would make it easier to start a business, get a job, raise a family and have the best shot at the best life. 


Because in every American state, a new, diverse group of conservatives debate whether they should jump to their respective states and local races.  

The suburban mom who’s outraged by the moral and educational failure of her kids’ school. Minority dad who recognizes America as fundamentally great, and not irredeemably racial.  

A child or grandchild of immigrant parents who is determined to protect our laws and make this country more welcoming And secure. A small business owner who is seeing his company and employees crushed by an avalanche one-size fits all mandates.  

I advise everyone, no matter where they might be.  

We are stronger when our movement has candidates from every walk of life. Conservatives should not demand that candidates “look” like their district or fit into any identity politics boxes. Candidate should come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. More people get involved means more leaders will be found for the country. 

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New Jersey, Virginia, and New Jersey have just shown the way. In addition to electing Glenn Youngkin as governor, Virginia just elected Winsome Sears as the first female African American as lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares as the first Latino attorney general – both strong conservatives.  

But the untold story is what happened in state legislative races across the country, thanks in large part to the good work of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Right Leaders Network.  

Republicans took back control of Old Dominion’s House of Delegates. Minorities and women won 57% of the flipped seats. In the Garden State, Republican women accounted for 50% of the gains in the state Senate and women and diverse candidates were responsible for 100% of the gains in the Assembly. 

Consider what it will look like in 2022. There will likely be more seats. 

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These local victories lay the groundwork for even further gains, since today’s state legislators are tomorrow’s governors and members of Congress. Almost half of the current GOP governors, and nearly all Republican U.S. House Members have previously held state offices. What starts in 2021 and 2022 won’t stop there, but first, conservatives need to step up. 

Not declaring your candidacy for office is difficult. It is also not easy to campaign. My experience is that the establishment and mainstream media will be awash with rage. That just means you’re on the right track. 

Let’s take the media. It’s predisposed to despise conservatives, and worse, it’s liable to treat conservative women and minorities as traitors.  

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Many candidates will expect stories that focus on superficialities, such as race or gender, and ignore deeper values. It can be tough to experience, but it’s critical to tough it out. The media doesn’t define anyone. 


It can get worse. There can be even more hostility from people who are enslaved in their old ways of doing things. To them, conservatives will upset the apple cart, and diverse candidates in particular run counter to their preconceived notions of how things ought to be – and who ought to be doing them. Expect candidates to exaggerate and tell outright lies about who and what they believe. 

Good news: The people are smarter than that. They’re smart enough to see through the smears and lies about conservative candidates. And they’re wise enough to pick out quality leaders from a crowded field.  

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In 2010, the year I was elected governor of South Carolina, there were many significant victories for diverse conservative candidates. South Carolina elected Tim Scott as its House of Representatives. Florida elected Marco Rubio into the U.S. Senate. Both began their journey as outsiders. I’m sure they also heard their fair share “Tim who?” They also heard “Marco who?” exactly as I heard it “Nikki what?”  


The same may be true for those who throw their hat into the ring today, whether they’re a concerned parent, a legal immigrant, a small business owner, or anyone else of any color or creed.  

Although they may not recognize their identities, the states in which they live might. But if they have the courage to run and fight for conservative principles, it won’t be long before everyone knows their name and what they stand for – which is exactly what America needs. 



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