Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown's appointment of Latina warrants recognition

Brown’s legacy with Latinos parallels that of Latinos and the Kennedys.
By Carlos Alcala, Managing Editor, The American Latina
SACRAMENTO, CA - On March 22, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown continued a legacy he had established 36 years ago by appointing Anna Caballero as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency.  By keeping his pledge to California’s burgeoning Latino population to make them a vital part of his administration, he has gained many new friends.
This appointment is crucial because the Secretary of State and Consumer Services Agency oversees thousands of employees in several departments including the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and one of the largest purchasers and contractors in the state, the Department of General Services. But, perhaps the most significant is the role the Secretary plays in the powerful Public Employment Retirement System (CalPERS) and the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). 
Each of these pension funds have control over billions of dollars in investments worldwide and are also the topic of current heated budget debates.  More recently, CalPERS has been a news item because of alleged bribes to Board members.
As Brown’s first major appointment in 36 years of a Latino, Anna Caballero is unquestionable skilled and qualified.  Only the appointment of the legendary Mario Obledo in 1975 as head of the Health and Human Services Agency by Brown rivals Caballero’s appointment in stature and importance to California’s Latino community of fourteen million.  
According to the United States census, Latinos now comprise 38% of California’s 37,254,000 people.  Therefore, the appointment of Anna Caballero to a cabinet level position may say as much about Brown as it does about Caballero. 
The continued historical relationship between California’s Mexican-American population and the Brown family was more than evident in the 2010 gubernatorial election.  According to the Los Angeles Times, as many as 80% of Mexican-American voters (or 4 of every 5 voters) cast their ballots for Jerry Brown. This relationship has affected California politics by causing dramatic power shifts, as witnessed in the lack of Republicans holding any Constitutional office.
Jerry Brown’s iconic position with the Mexican-American community is paralleled only by the Kennedy family’s own relationship. Both, the late Robert Kennedy and the Browns, tied their wagon to legendary labor leader Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW). Although Chavez is gone, the ties he forged continue to endure today.
However, unlike the late President John F. Kennedy, who built his relationship with Mexican-Americans through Jacqueline Kennedy’s Spanish-language appeal, Brown constructed his relationship through solid action in the appointment of Mexican-Americans to his first administration.  Thirty five years ago, Brown made history and won the loyalty of the Mexican-American community when he appointed Mario Obledo, Irene Tovar, and Dr. Jerome Lackner (physician to Cesar Chavez) to prominent agency secretary, board member, and department director positions in his first Administration.  Obledo and Lackner brought in other Mexican-Americans, such as Obledo’s and Lackner’s civil rights officer who was instrumental in greatly increasing Mexican-American representation in state government.  These efforts propelled Brown into the iconic position that he holds today with the Mexican-American community.
The significance of the Brown/Mexican-American community ties cannot be understated. There were 5.4 million eligible Mexican-American voters in California in the 2010 election. The lopsided Mexican-American vote for Jerry Brown determined the outcome of the 2010 gubernatorial election. If the Mexican-American vote had split evenly, Republicans would be celebrating Meg Whitman as Governor and not Democrat Jerry Brown.
Brown has grown accustomed to winning elections in California, largely due to his relationship with Mexican-Americans. It is fair to say that the Brown/Mexican-American community relationship has defined Brown’s career.  At a recent March 2011 event supporting the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Dolores Huerta introduced Jerry Brown as “California’s Latino governor.”
Many Latinos identify the appointment of Cabinet level appointment of Mario Obledo to the Health and Human Services Agency as the catalyst for progress and equity for Mexican-Americans in the First Brown Administration.  This explains the immediate expectations placed upon Anna Caballero.  For all these reasons, Mexican-American leaders were ecstatic about Brown’s appointment of Anna Caballero to Brown’s cabinet.  A recent Pew Institute Study disclosed that 74% of Latinos could not name a Latino leader.
Jim Hernandez, CEO of the California Hispanic Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, reflected on the appointment, “Anna Caballero has a tremendous opportunity to become the Latina leader in the United States.  She simply has to exercise the courage to advocate civil rights fairness for Latinos.  Brown has shown us his good faith, now she must show us that she can lead.” 
As the former mayor of Salinas and a long time civil rights activist, the Latino community’s expectations of Anna Caballero are already very high.  Whether she will be able to match those expectations remains to be seen.  
Taty Aguilera, a high-level state employee and recipient of the Latino Journal’s Employment Advocate of the Year opined, “Caballero is the right choice for the cabinet.  I know that she will stand up for justice for Latinos and all Californians.” 
Arnulfo Hernandez, former General Counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs, applauded the appointment of Caballero, “Brown could not have made a better selection.” 
Caballero’s appointment is an affirmation of the careers in public service that she and her husband, Juan Uranga, have chosen.  Juan, also a former CRLA lawyer, is now Executive Director of a non-profit organization in Salinas, CA, that advocates for housing for the low income and migrant farm workers.
We welcome Gov. Jerry Brown’s first overture and anticipate many more appointments for Latinos throughout his term.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas GOP refuses to register more Latinos

The Texas GOP refuses to help Arizona Hispanic Republicans because they attacked legislators who supported changes to the 14th Amendment.
By Arizona-Hispanic-Republicans, Under Secure Borders and Reasonable Immigration Solution

Publisher's Note:  This letter first appeared in the Tucson Citizen on March 23, 2011.

TUCSON, AZ - As you may already know, SOMOS REPUBLICANS is based out of Arizona. We believe Arizona is ground zero with regard to immigration.

A few weeks ago, my Texas leader complained that he was not getting any response from the Texas Republican Party, so naturally, I decided to blog about it here and it prompted one of their outreach directors to call us because apparently the Texas GOP Chair (Steve Munisteri) receives Google alerts with regard to his name. You can read our initial concern here.

Today, we followed up via email with the Texas GOP because our Texas Director, Lauro Garza, wanted to work on a voter initiative, and we know that Hispanics need to be more dependable voters, especially during the Primary Election season. We wrote the Texas GOP to find out if they would be willing to incentivize our grassroots organizers to register new Latino Republican voters. The Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri basically told us he didn't need help registering new Latino voters. They noted SOMOS REPUBLICANS have attacked legislators who attack American baby rights via the 14th amendment, immigrants, and our youth. In fact, we are notorious for attacking Representative Peck of Kansas for advocating the shooting of illegal immigrants.

In the below exchange of emails, you will see me draw a parallel behind what our organization is doing and what Elizabeth Rickey had to do with regard to neo-Nazi supporter, David Duke. Except we have a much tougher job as a national organization because we are fighting bigotry on a national scale and it appears Steve Ministeri wants us to turn a blind eye to that and not say anything as to avoid snags with their bylaws. Since when did we evolve to putting Party before People?

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 19:49:27 -0500 [07:49PM CDT]
From: DeeDee
To: Steve Munisteri
Subject: RE: Somos Republicans seeks to establish relations with RPT

Dear Steve,

Thank you for your quick response. You have answered our questions and it prevents us from writing you a letter next week. It is unfortunate that "attacking Republicans" after they attack American baby rights, immigrants and our youth via the DREAM Act is preventing a partnership. As you might already know, and according to the PEW [Hispanic Center], the large majority of Latinos are against harsh SB 1070 type of laws.

Please recall to your remembrance when Elizabeth Rickey, a GOP activist, denounced David Duke in Louisiana. She fought hard against bigotry and racism when David Duke was partnering with neo-Nazi and Klansmen. She looked for GOP colleagues on the Republicans State Central Committee to censure and disavow him to no avail - in fact some actually embraced him. We all know Rickey's story when several friends left her, but she persisted and was ultimately successful.

I see a similar parallel sweeping the nation that began with Russell Pearce, who has ties to a known neo-Nazi, J.T. Ready. Russell Pearce baptized J.T. Ready in his church. The architect and organizations behind these laws embrace zero population ideas, Planned Parenthood, and socialism. I will continue to sound the alarm to my Party leaders because it is my responsibility to "tell the King he is naked", and because it is the right thing to do to expose bigotry. I am persistent with this crusade because I believe the arc of justice bends on our side.

When the Party is wrong, I will side with the majority of the people, however, when the Party corrects itself I will bring the people back.

The ONLY way for the Republican Party to build trust with the majority of the Latino community is to denounce unconstitutional and anti-immigrant laws that have damaged our party. Several of your Latino auxiliaries are on record for embracing these horrendous laws and the Texas Republican legislators that introduce them. With this track record, the Republican Party is set to be on a course that will more than likely dwindle Hispanic Republican support down to 12-15%. Our goal is to increase that, and we cannot increase our Hispanic Republican voters by turning a blind eye to those who side legislators like David Duke, Tom Tancredo, J.D. Hayworth, Russell Pearce and Debbie Riddle.

Soon we will identify the groups you have affiliations with and who have been on the record for embracing unconstitutional and anti-immigrant laws such as SB 1070. We will remind everyone that the sponsor of SB 1070 is on the record for stating he "welcomed Operation Wetback." We will expose those groups on our websites and social networks soon, but we wanted to make sure we made an attempt to reach out to you first.

Lastly, SOMOS REPUBLICANS was instrumental in promoting several Latino Republicans Candidates not only in Texas, but all over the United States. We cannot support any candidate who wishes to demonize American born babies and the immigrant community. And we most certainly cannot side with any legislator who supports the views of Russell Pearce who has ties with known neo-Nazis. Since you are actively working with "numerous" Latino groups, then there is no need for us to register new Latino Republican voters in Texas. Your confidence calms my worry. Your Latino auxiliaries who are on the record for embracing SB 1070 type of laws should be sufficient for the State of Texas and the message is clear that you need no more help.


DeeDee Garcia Blase

Quoting Steve Munisteri <smunisteri@texasgop.org>:

FYI-The bylaws of the RPT [Republican Party of Texas] prohibit the allocation of resources or Staff which indirectly or directly can influence intraparty contests. Therefore we will NOT be providing assistance to groups with a history of attacking Republican elected officials. The RPT works through our official auxiliary Hispanic Republican outreach groups who went through a screening process to become to affiliated with the RPT. I am happy to report that we are actively already working with numerous effective, well established Latino groups. In fact, I just attended a conference with these groups yesterday. This outreach is one reason the RPT just elected 6 new Latino state Reps and 2 new Latino Congressman. I trust this answers the inquiry-Steve

From: DeeDee
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 4:15 PM
To: Chris Elam
Subject: RE: Somos Republicans seeks to establish relations with RPT


Please give us Steve's email, too. We will send a hard copy via snail mail, too.

We don't have a "hit list" as you are calling it. We react fast when GOP legislators refer to precious gifts from God as "anchor babies". It is demeaning and we are staunch pro lifers here. Furthermore, we do not believe in anti-immigrant laws that are contrary to Capitalism and Free Market Thinking.

Republicans who hold restrictionist, isolationist, and protectionist views do not belong in the party that claims to embrace Capitalism. We are restoring our damaged image, and we do it by disassociating ourselves from Dixiecrat individuals.

We will continue to produce a Hispanic friendly voting guide that was published in several, several Spanish media outlets during the 2010 midterm elections. The Hispanic friendly guide consists of people who do not demonize immigrants. Our Hispanic friendly guide is only a guide on immigration related issues....it is not a full blown endorsement. Our PAC endorses non-Democratic candidates.

Warmest regards,
DeeDee Garcia Blase

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2011 14:48:12 -0500 [03/23/2011 02:48PM CDT]
From: DeeDee
To: Lauro Garza, Chris Elam
Subject: Re: Somos Republicans seeks to establish relations with RPT

Mr. Elam,

Allow this to be a follow up to our verbal conversation we had a couple of weeks ago.

As discussed, we are interested in a bounty so that we can incentivize our grassroots organizers to register new Latino Republican voters over Independents.

We have a good rapport with the community because of our vocal opposition of SB 1070. Many of your Latino affiliations cannot say that about themselves....and we put people before party which is an important key element to gain back Latino trust and interest. As you already know, W. Bush received approximately 44% of Latino vote, and we have the numbers dwindle to 31% who voted for McCain. Several GOPers who have introduced anti-immigrant laws have hurt us tremendously with regard to the "big tent". We have developed trust and are coalition building with Latino leaders solely because of our opposition to SB 1070, and in fact we hear things like "I hate the racist Republican Party, but we love SOMOS REPUBLICANS." We believe they respect us because we don't agree with anti-immigrant/enforcement only laws.

Please let us know if you are interested in working with us. We do not want to be affiliated, but we do want to know if you will pay us a bounty for registering new Republican voters for the upcoming 2012 elections. If you pay us for registering new Republican voters, it will give us an incentive to try to convince Latinos to register as Republican.

If you get a moment, please review our 12 steps to securing our borders and legal immigration. Lionel Sosa (Hispanic Advisor to Reagan, Bush I and II) helped us polish it.

Thanks for your interest.

State GOP blows opp to gain Latino voters

With new census data out and a poll showing Latinos would not vote for the GOP, the Party's existence is at stake.
By Adrian Perez

SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Republican Party concluded their annual convention March 18-20, 2011 and of the three days of networking and discussing a statewide platform, only three things came out:  1) Condemning former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commutation of a convicted felon; 2) They agreed not to support any tax measures; and, 3) Gave Presidential hopeful Ron Paul the straw poll.  

No one will disagree that Schwarzenegger’s actions to help out pal and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez by commuting his son’s prison sentence was wrong.  A felony is a felony and this type of semi-pardons on egregious crimes, such as murder, leaves a bad taste in voters’ minds.  However, compared to the economic and state budgetary problems, this action seemed more as a distraction from placing emphasis on more significant problems the GOP is facing.  

California’s Latino population has grown significantly and is expected to be the majority within a couple of years.  A recent poll showed Latinos are less likely to vote for Republican candidates.  So why wasn’t this a key topic of discussion for the GOP delegates and their leadership?

As their support continues to wane, and as redistricting appears to be leaning Democratic, it would seem Republicans would have spent time strategizing on repairing their image and making overtures to win Latino support.  With the creation of two new Congressional and Assembly seats in predominantly Latino populations, the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, it would only make sense for the GOP to make amends.  Their inattention to this issue will more than likely mean more Democratic gains, which could perhaps place the GOP in the official category of insignificant after the 2012 elections.

To survive in California, Republicans need Latino voters.  The last Republican leader who ever made strong end-roads with Latinos was the late President Ronald Reagan who said, “Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it.”  To expand his reach into this community, he gave amnesty to nearly 4 million undocumented U.S. residents.  In California, some Republican leaders have included prominent Latinos in their inner circle, like former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin.  Even then, it appears as if Republicans have made every effort to alienate this population, including many Latinos who have been loyal to the Party for decades.

Possible Resolutions
Instead of focusing on passing resolutions that would have titled “traitor” to any Party member who supports tax referendums, they should have had an open discussion about what they could do as a Party to improve California.  They should have had an open discussion about how to recruit Latino voters and move long-time supporters up their ranks.  Plus, they should have had an open discussion of which opportunities could bridge the needs of business, Latinos and the state’s overall economy.  One such opportunity Democrats appear to take for granted and could be strong GOP bargaining chip is Education.  

Being the Party that is perceived to represent business, they should know that a strong and well-educated workforce is a major attraction for industry, a topic Schwarzenegger embraced and won him many supporters.  With the Public Policy Institute of California telling us there is going to be a major shortage of a college educated workforce, coupled with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal of cutting especially higher education, the opportunity to seize the moment has been there for GOP leaders.  By adopting a platform that would have negotiated the improvement of education from K-12 through college, the GOP could have won the votes of many parents and especially Latinos, whose children comprise the majority in schools throughout the state.  Plus, focusing on higher education would encourage additional support from industry.

Unfortunately, the GOP leadership missed this opportunity.  Moreover, they don’t dabble in education, as witnessed by their lack of interest in participating in local school districts.  This shortsighted agenda will continue to add to the California GOP’s undoing.  

Not all Latinos support education cuts and are looking for individual leaders with real solutions for their children to have an opportunity in California and American society.   Many of these voters feel abandoned by Democrats and ignored to the point of being disliked by Republicans.  Perhaps there is a need to have a new third party that understands and values Latinos.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Egypt and Latinos in America

Twenty-four hour news cycles has not only desensitized Americans, but has caused them to ignore injustice.


Publisher's Note:  This opinion first appeared in Hispanic Ohio.
Unrest leads to protest, and protest can lead to change.  This has not been any more apparent than the events that took place in Egypt.  Middle-East experts are now watching the countries of Yemen and Libya to see how they take shape, but can the revolution spread to the United States?

Raul Ramos y Sanchez has written American Libre and its sequel House Divided, which illustrates a situation in which Hispanics in the United States could have such an uprising.

Sanchez says people seem to bypass events that happen around the world, unless something extreme is done.  Twenty - four hour news cycles combined with the internet providing instant information has not only desensitized Americans, but has caused them to all but ignore injustice.

"Mubarak has been a dictator for 30 years.  Once you have riots and see bleeding on the streets, then people start saying whet's going on.  That's what's going on in American Libre and House Divided," said Sanchez.  "[State governments] are now trying to pass a law changing the 14th amendment"

At least two U.S. senators have experimented with the idea of denying automatic citizenship to U.S. - born children of illegal immigrants.

GOP Senators, David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky have introduced a measure to change the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution so that children born in the United States cannot become citizens unless one parent is already a citizen, legal immigrant or active member of the armed forces.

State legislators in Arizona and other states are preparing to challenge the rights to U.S. citizenship, hoping their state-by-state effort will eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, a child born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen regardless of whether or not their parents are U.S. citizens.

Rep. Knox (R-Montana) has proposed a bill that states a child must have at least one parent who "owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty."

Knox said, "The 14th amendment was never intended to guarantee citizenship to those born here of parents who are not themselves citizens. It was never intended to create a symbolic anchor that allows parents and other family members who are not citizens themselves to pass into the country and access to our many well-intended social services."

Opponents of the bill say the state has no right to interpret the U.S. Constitution, they also state Knox's bill denies Montana citizenship to people who have dual citizenship.

Lawmakers in 40 states, aside from Arizona, are pursuing this bill "to correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," according to State Legislators for Legal Immigration.

-Ron Gould, a spokesman for SLLI says - "These folks are essentially gaming the system to put themselves ahead of the line,"

The proposed bill to end birthright citizenship suggests that the government creates a specialty birth certificate for babies whose parents can't prove their citizenship.

Sanchez - who lives in Dayton - also argues the contrary that states such as Arizona say undocumented people cost the state billions of dollars.

"They say every day; each American household is paying 100 dollars to support an undocumented person. Then they say we will take all remittances by people sending money out of the country, but those who are undocumented will be afraid to apply"

The Cuban born Sanchez noted while lawmakers are continuing to sponsor anti-Latino legislation, it causes mistrust amongst Latino communities and their representatives, much like what has happened already in Cairo. Egypt.

"Its building: the day may come when there will be a Mubarak moment," Sanchez said...  "They will be in Los Angelos; they will be in Miami etc."

Though Sanchez's novels foresee a future of division, he is optimistic.

"I hope that my novel, American Libre (and House Divided) will illustrate that before it happens," said Sanchez.  "[Politicians} know that the areas of the country that are growing are also areas with high Latino populations."

Reports have suggested the Internet was an important tool used by protesters in Egypt.  Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook were used to organize times, dates, and rallying cries of protest.  Cell phones were used to send text messages, video, and pictures around the world to illustrate what was actually happening in Egypt, despite the messages sent out through state television stations.

However, for an intermediate amount of time during the protest in Cairo, the internet and cell phones were shut down in the attempt to prevent information from leaving the country.

Along with technological censorship, foreign reporters from around the world were not granted access to several locations and had to report from their hotel rooms. State reporters were given ultimatums, either report what the Egyptian government says, or lose their jobs, according to news reports.

"It used to be the first thing they did was shut down the radio and newspapers," said Sanchez who is an advertising executive by trade.

Two-thirds of Hispanics went online in 2010; primary through cell phones according to a Pew Hispanic Research study, released in Feb. 2011

The interior ministry of Egypt was reported saying dissidents "sent messages to citizens to gather in a number of mosques in the provinces during Friday prayers."

The protesters by in large were not poor, they were not malnourished, the protestors were middle class and educated, they afforded cell phones and quality homes.  Their anger was not fueled by poverty, it was fueled by tyranny, it was fueled by the lack of representation of the people.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Open letter to Arizona Latinos

Letter to Latinos – Begin the Hispanic Primary Election Rallies in Your Cities!

by Arizona-Hispanic-Republicans on Mar. 02, 2011

Publisher's Note:  This open letter was first published in the Tucson Citizen

Dear Gente:

We have a year and a half to increase our political clout.  We do this by getting ready and registering our cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and friends who are eligible.  Be sure to put them all on the early ballot system.  We should all ask for early ballots, that way you don’t have to fuss with getting away from work, and you receive your ballot in your mail box (in several states).

The reason why we are in this political mess that is filled with anti-Latino sentiment is because we are “asleep”.  I hear so many of you complain about the tea party whackos, however, we don’t motivate ourselves to vote in the PRIMARY ELECTION seasons.  We cannot afford to let these extremists get anymore control. Latinos bring “moderation” to the table and these stinkin’ politicians know it.
Those of you who are Hispanic Republicans, grab a buddy or family members and register them to vote if they are not registered. If they don’t want to register as a Republican, register them as Independent, Libertarian, or Democrat — it doesn’t matter, as long as they vote. Get them on the early ballot voting system and tell them to vote during the primary elections.  If we can increase and register more Latino Republicans, have them contact SOMOS REPUBLICANS so that we can tell our new voters how to become a GOP leader within their states.  We change the face of the Party from within and restore our sole back to the Party of Abe Lincoln. As a Hispanic Republican….naturally I would prefer to see more Latino Republicans, but understand why they don’t.  Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, JD Hayworth, Tom Tancredo have done a superb job at destroying the image of my Party.

Those of you who are Democratic, same with you, grab a buddy or family members and register them to vote if they are not registered.  Several Latinos are registered as Democratic, so there should be more of you who should be Precinct Committeemen or Delegates.  Contact the DNC and tell them you want to hold a leadership within the Democratic Party and demand to find out why there aren’t more Latinos in this role.  The way I figure it, Democratic leaders WANT you to be asleep during the primary elections so that the far left liberals can leave you with a choice of voting for the most liberal person during the general election.  In fact, we are now witnessing a Democratic Senator in Arizona wanting to appear “tough on…immigration” now — her name is Kyrsten Sinema.

We cannot complain if we do not vote during the Primary Elections.  We will have a 2012 Hispanic Friendly voting guide that will make it easy for Latinos to vote based on our list.  The Hispanic voting guide will be based on Politicians who have supported our community.  Politicians who are up for re-election and who have supported anti-immigrant legislation will end up on our UN-friendly list.
Start preparing now.  Every free Latino open concert in Dallas, Ft Worth, San Antonio, Brownsville, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, Tallahassee, Denver, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, New York, Des Moines, Phoenix, Tucson, Chicago, Salt Lake, and more should have a registration table at these events.  Get with your pastors and find out when their events are and coordinate a table set up to register more gente.

Are you angry and fed up enough?  Will you convert your anger into something productive and more influential?  Then get out the Hispanic vote.  Go to the Post Office, and register every single one of your family members in preparation of the upcoming 2012 elections, except THIS TIME VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS. Vote for politicians who are Hispanic-friendly, and then feel good about registering every eligible person in your family (we have large families) because you did something to counter the extremism we are all witnessing.

DeeDee Garcia Blase
Founder/President of SOMOS REPUBLICANS

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The courtship of Latinos begins with Gingrich

Newt Gingrich's presidential bid will hinge on gaining Latino and Tea Party support simultaneously

Opinion By Adrian Perez, Publisher

Newt Gingrich
Of all the likely Republican presidential contenders for 2012, Newt Gingrich appears to be the best prepared to debate President Barack Obama and perhaps, even win the debate.  This does not mean he will win the votes necessary to become President, especially if he does not continue to make overtures to Latino voters.  At the same time, by making these overtures, he could be alienating the Tea Party, whose membership appears focused on minimizing Latino influence.

According to preliminary 2010 census data, Latinos are the fastest growing population segment in the United States and have clearly become the largest minority with their numbers quickly reaching 48 million.  Within the Latino population, there is a staggering number of new eligible voters whose numbers are projected to grow to over one million per year based on UCLA projections.  This being the case, and with Gingrich stressing regularly that the GOP needs to reach out and include Latinos, the 2012 presidential election appears to be headed for some interesting fireworks.

Gingrich’s first well publicized outreach to Latinos occurred at the  Americano Hispanic Forum held this past December where he emphasized the need for Republicans to be more inclusive of Latinos.

"We are not going to deport 11 million people," he told attendees at the first Hispanic Forum. "There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty."

His comments are clearly not shy about criticizing the GOP’s far-right faction that has alienated Latino support due to continuous demonstrations of insensitivity toward immigrants.  For many Latino Republicans, Gingrich is on the right track.

"Newt is setting a table that had not been set before," Juan Hernandez, Founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform told the Washington Post last year. "We needed a Nixon to go to China. Having Newt be the one going to Hispanics is kind of like that."

But, before anyone elevates Gingrich to official representative for conservative Latinos, it is essential to point out he hasn’t always been supportive of Latinos.  A couple of years ago, he equated speaking Spanish to “the language of living in a ghetto,” resulting in such a huge uproar that he videotaped a three-minute apology, in Spanish, to the Latino community.  This, Latino Democrats claim, is why Gingrich’s new approach for attaining Latino support is merely like painting a smile on the face of hate and racism.  Gingrich begs to differ, and his learning Spanish, speaking it at public events, even creating bilingual conservative websites, he hopes will demonstrate his sincerity.

But, while he is being sincere to Latinos, the GOP Tea Party movement continues to move toward an anti-Latino stance, by electing individuals who demonstrate insensitivity to Latino immigrants and non-immigrants living in the U.S.  This includes electing individuals who claim being Latino, but whose racist actions indicate a clearly loyalty to the Tea Party that elected them.  Such is the case with Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico.  Upon taking office, she essentially declared an open season to anyone who looks illegal to be stopped by state police.  Some Latinos in New Mexico who voted for her are surprised how she mirrors the Latino despised Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer. Brewer’s continued badgering of documented and undocumented Latinos has led for even the Hispanic Republicans of Arizona to push for her recall.

U.S. Senator Marc Rubio, Fl.
What chance does someone like Gingrich have at attaining support from Latinos should he pursue a presidential bid?  First, it will depend on how he can ally himself with popular conservative Latinos like Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.  Rubio’s popularity easily won him the Senate seat, attaining nearly 60 percent of Florida’s Latino vote.  Secondly, it will depend heavily on whether they can also pull in the majority of GOP voters, including far right thinkers.  If the GOP’s far right continues to gain influence and if legislation like the Smith-King bill, which repeals the 14th Amendment’s birthright clause, Gingrich, regardless of his running mate, will be sent back to retirement.  If this becomes the case, his Spanish will be better used on vacation trips to Spanish speaking countries than attaining Latino support.