Will new super PAC turn urban voters Republican?

Former Boston city council candidate and charter school lobbyist behind new effort

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Robert L. Fortes, a former Boston city council candidate and self-described “proud” black Republican, has launched a new super PAC apparently intent on attracting urban voters to the GOP.

Fortes’ new endeavor is called Urban Prosperity, according to documents released last week by the Federal Election Commission. The group may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and must regularly disclose its donors, although its financial resources aren't yet clear.

While Fortes did not immediately respond to requests for comment, he has frequently taken to his blog to share his political vision.

“We can no[t] keep losing the urban vote,” he wrote in one post in December. “The GOP needs to look at cities the same way the wildcatters looked at empty fields in Texas, there’s oil under the ground and if we can drill it out we will prosper.”

That's no easy task: Presidential election exit polls showed that President Barack Obama dominated Republican Mitt Romney in urban areas, winning about 69 percent of the vote in big cities and about 58 percent of the vote in mid-sized cities.

Fortes himself is no stranger to underdog political ventures.

In 2009, Fortes made an unsuccessful run for an at-large city council seat in Boston. He received about 2 percent of the vote in a 15-way primary race.

Fortes then worked as a consultant for Republican Scott Brown during his initial 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, when Brown won an upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley.

Previously, Fortes had worked on “lead advance and operations” for Republican Mitt Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, according to his LinkedIn profile. When Romney moved into the governor’s mansion in 2003, Fortes was tapped as Romney’s director of outreach and coalitions.

Fortes later served as the executive director of Massachusetts’ Minority and Woman Business Assistance office and as the assistant general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

More recently, Fortes worked for the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, employing his organizing skills as the “Boston Charter Alliance advocacy director,” according to his online résumé.

While state records show that Fortes was registered as a lobbyist for the group, Massachusetts Charter Public School Association spokesman Dominic Slowey said Fortes’ main responsibility was organizing parents who would, in turn, “advocate on behalf of their kids.”

Fortes is the son of the late Robert Fortes, a community activist and Democratic state representative in the 1970s.

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