In a statement provided exclusively to Red Alert Politics on Wednesday evening, the RNC said it has hired Elliot Echols to “build a grassroots infrastructure with the under-30 community.” In this role, Echols will be responsible for working with state parties to beef up their youth outreach. He will also serve as the RNC’s official liaison to outside organizations that target young people, including the Young Republican National Federation, College Republican National Committee and the Teen Age Republicans.
“Today’s announcement is groundbreaking,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said via email. “Bringing Elliot on board in an off-year will help us build relationships with young voters and mobilize students and young professionals to take our message to their peers.”
Echols, who graduated from Berry College in 2012, hails from the ranks of the College Republicans. During the 2012 election cycle he served as one of the organization’s four Regional Political Directors, helping the CRNC make an unprecedented number of voter contacts. Until April of last year, he served as State Chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans.
He has already relocated to DC and began working at the RNC’s headquarters on Capitol Hill last week.
The RNC’s decision to hire a National Youth Director comes nearly seven months to the day of the release of its 2012 autopsy, in which the party acknowledged it’s “seen as old and detached from pop culture.” This substantially contributed to 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney losing the under 30 vote to President Barack Obama by five million votes, the party admits in its Growth and Opportunity Project report.
“The RNC must more effectively highlight our young leaders and fundamentally change the tone we use to talk about issues and the way we are communicating with voters,” it says. “This means acknowledging the problem and then building an infrastructure or youth component to all of our political efforts.
“The RNC and Republican candidates need to establish the same network of committed young voters who will help spread our message,” the report continues.
Among the autopsy’s recommendations is the creation of an “RNC youth liaison.”
The RNC has been quietly interviewing candidates for the suggested position for the last few months, and earlier this year the party committee hired a Deputy Press Secretary – Raffi Williams – specifically tasked with reaching out to youth.
In a recent interview with Red Alert, Williams said the RNC had already made begun making major moves to bring young people “into the fold” at the RNC such as meeting with influential young Republicans to solicit advice on how the party can better work with existing groups to target young people.
“We are going to have a concerted push on campuses around the country to mirror and bolster already what College Republicans are doing, try to mirror and bolster what the young Republicans are doing, and we’re going to try to target young people where they live and work so in cities,” Williams said.
In his statement to Red Alert Priebus said the RNC was committed to investing in young Americans beyond the next election, saying that this initiative “will outlast any one cycle or campaign.”
“Young Americans are independent-minded people who are concerned about getting our nation’s economy back on track and I look forward to getting their input on how we move forward as a country and as a party,” Priebus said.