Democrats are seeking to capitalize on Rep. Don Young's (R-Alaska) use of an ethnic slur to describe Hispanics.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to put out press releases calling on more than three dozen House Republicans with fast-growing Hispanic populations in their districts to denounce Young's comments.
"Congressman McKeon can't remain silent on his colleague Don Young's use of a racial slur to describe Latino families," DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in one version of the release.
"Hispanic Americans and all of the hardworking people of California deserve to know if Congressman McKeon will stand by and let his pal denigrate our neighbors, or if he will do the right thing — and condemn the use of racial slurs by his political party leader. Congressman Don Young is the second-most senior Republican in Congress, and Congressman McKeon should stand up for Latino families in California."
Young has no position of leadership in the GOP, but is serving his 21st term. He has had a rocky relationship with some members of his own party, and might best be known as the sponsor of the so-called "bridge to nowhere" — which would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska, to its airport and became a symbol of pork-barrel spending.
Republicans have denounced Young's remark, which was made in a Thursday interview with a radio station in Kethcikan. Young recalled that while growing up at his father's ranch "we used to have 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes."
Young has since said he "meant no disrespect" by using the term.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus have all condemned Young's remarks.
"Congressman Young's remarks were offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds," Boehner said in a statement. "I don’t care why he said it. There’s no excuse, and it warrants an immediate apology."
The remarks come at a particularly bad time for the GOP, as the party seeks to reboot its image and improve on its abysmal performance with Hispanic voters from 2012.