Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brown Losing Latino Vote

Brown losing Latino Vote
By Adrian Perez, Publisher, The Perez Factor, July 14, 2010

For nearly a year Latinos in California have been waiting for gubernatorial candidate and Democrat Jerry Brown to reach out to them and ask for their support.  Instead, Brown, who is also the State’s Attorney General, has been relying on name recognition and assumed support from California’s burgeoning Latino voters.  Now, with the latest Field Poll showing him on a dead-heat campaign against political newcomer, Republican Meg Whitman, and losing Latino votes to her, Brown is trying to get back the Latino support.  But, is it too late?

As this column has mentioned numerous times, the Latino vote in California cannot be taken for granted and will play a significant role in this year’s elections.  Field Polls conducted earlier this year showed Brown was losing Latino voters under the age of 45.  Last week’s poll confirmed that gap and also showed Whitman was gaining among all Latino voters.

In response to the Poll, supporters of Brown argue that Whitman is buying the election.  This argument is like saying we need to put gas in the car to get anywhere.  Money is what makes any campaign run, and the more a candidate has, the bigger is the potential edge to getting elected.  That’s what happens when both parties fight campaign reform.

The public and private unions (representing teachers, government workers, nurses, labor, etc.) are supporting Brown’s campaign, but find themselves being out spent by a wealthy and formidable female candidate, whose camp realized early on that the Latino vote is essential to become governor.  Realizing a potential loss at the helm, these groups will more than likely refocus their efforts on Assembly and Senate seats, where they can assure themselves a win and maintaining their political stronghold.

Whitman’s focus on opposing Proposition 187 and Arizona’s SB 1070 in Spanish media has been key to winning over many undecided Latino voters.  In addition, her messaging has persuaded some Latino Democrats who are uncertain about Brown’s ability to run the state, to switch and support her candidacy.

In the meantime, or at least until the most recent Field Poll was published, Brown had been running a low-budget, shoestring style campaign, leaving many early-on Latino supporters out in the cold.  This was especially true among young Democratic voters who were ready to start campaigning for him, but were instead placed on hold or ignored all together.

Brown’s poor campaign strategies and Whitman’s aggressive media blitz have resulted in Latino voters supporting Whitman by 11 percentage points over Brown with only 14 weeks of campaigning left.  To soften the negative impact of the Field Poll and address the loss of Latino voters, Brown recently surrounded himself with numerous prominent Latino Democratic leaders and held a press conference in Los Angeles.

"Listen, you can put up your billboards in Spanish and you can buy stuff on Spanish television, but the people aren't fooled,” Brown said in a public statement to Whitman.  “The people know the truth.  Between now and November, we're going to deliver that message up and down the state."

Unfortunately, his statement may be coming a bit late and sound a bit hollow since he should have taken these steps immediately after the primary election.  Additionally, the Latino Democratic leaders should have been sending this message to their communities as soon as everyone learned Brown would be the presumed Democratic candidate.  But neither Brown nor the Latino Democratic leaders did anything.

Compounding his loss of Latino voters, the Field Poll also showed Brown behind Whitman among young voters (18-39).  Feedback gathered on internet polls suggest young voters think Brown is “too old” or, as a sarcastic note suggested, he reminds them of Mr. Burns from the “Simpsons” cartoon.  This voting bloc is significant because they are expected to show in large numbers on election day, due to Proposition 19, which will attempt to legalize marijuana use in the state.  Brown has stated he is opposed to the passage of the proposition while Whitman has remained relatively quiet on the issue.

Jerry Brown had the Democratic gubernatorial candidacy handed to him when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome bowed out to run for Lt. Governor.  He was indirectly confirmed as the ideal candidate when U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein opted not to run for governor.  Even Hollywood has stepped up in raising funds for his campaign.  Yet, Jerry Brown and the Democrats don’t appear to want California’s Governorship.  Latino voters, like all voters, will support the candidate who shows they want the job the most.

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