GOP must change to achieve Latino dream

Marysville Appeal-Democrat - - LOCAL / MORE LOCAL ON A5 -

As Cal­i­for­nia en­ters the heart of an elec­tion year where the Top Two pri­mary sys­tem has sad­dled the state’s Repub­li­can Party with new prob­lems at sev­eral po­lit­i­cal and govern­men­tal lev­els, the GOP still clings to one big pipe dream:

De­spite the anti-im­mi­grant, anti-Mex­i­can rhetoric of pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump, the GOP per­sists in hop­ing to cut into the gi­gan­tic ma­jori­ties ev­ery Demo­crat has won among Lati­nos over the last gen­er­a­tion, ex­cept when they’ve run against movie star Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger.

Sch­warzeneg­ger was a spe­cial case, first win­ning of­fice in a re­call elec­tion al­most purely on the strength of his celebrity and mus­cle­man im­age.

That did not help the GOP in the long term. The state party now faces an un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion where it not only qual­i­fied no can­di­date for this fall’s con­test to re­place Demo­crat Bar­bara Boxer in the U.S. Se­nate, but also has no can­di­dates at all in more than 30 other races.

Around the state to­day, 25 bat­tles for Congress or the Leg­is­la­ture see only one party on the bal­lot, two more fea­ture Democrats fac­ing off with “no party pref­er­ence” can­di­dates and 16 slots have can­di­dates run­ning unop­posed. The vast ma­jor­ity of these one-sided elec­tions fea­ture Democrats.

One cause is clear: If the GOP had been able to draw a sub­stan­tial vote from the state’s large Latino pop­u­la­tion in the June pri­mary, to­day’s sit­u­a­tion would look very dif­fer­ent. Af­ter more than a cen­tury of po­lit­i­cal dor­mancy, Lati­nos have emerged as the sec­ond-largest eth­nic vot­ing ThomasD. Eliaswrites on Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­tic­sand oth­eris­sues.

bloc in Cal­i­for­nia and al­most ev­ery­where else, trail­ing only whites of Euro­pean de­scent.

There is no Sch­warzeneg­ger-like sav­ior in sight to­day for the state’s Repub­li­cans – in fact, there is no ma­jor GOP fig­ure now among the lead­ing prospects to run for gov­er­nor in 2018 – so the state party’s real need is to look hard at what it does and how that of­fends Lati­nos. For with­out a lot of Latino votes, no party in Cal­i­for­nia can hope to ac­com­plish much.

Just how neg­a­tively Lati­nos feel about Repub­li­cans can be seen in some re­cent elec­tions. In 2010, Boxer car­ried 66 per­cent of the Latino vote to 31 per­cent for ri­val Carly Fio­r­ina. If Fio­r­ina had won 40 per­cent of Latino votes – as Ron­ald Rea­gan of­ten did in his hey­day – she’d be a sen­a­tor to­day. Jerry Brown won Latino bal­lot­ing by a 6334 per­cent mar­gin in the same year – the last time Cal­i­for­nia had an open seat in the gov­er­nor’s of­fice. With Trump run­ning, polls sug­gest Democrats can now ex­pect to get well over 70 per­cent of Latino votes.

Repub­li­cans are re­al­is­tic enough to know they’ll have to turn around quite a few Lati­nos to make re­spectable show­ings in the fu­ture, or to be­gin cut­ting down the cur­rent 17 per­cent Demo­cratic ad­van­tage among reg­is­tered vot­ers.

They vowed sev­eral times in re­cent years to do that, even hir­ing Latino out­reach di­rec­tors with Span­ish sur­names. So far, it has not helped.

So if Repub­li­cans don’t want to sink into com­plete ir­rel­e­vancy in Cal­i­for­nia, they’ll have to make some real changes. Merely hir­ing peo­ple whose names sound His­panic won’t do. Nor will happy talk. Es­pe­cially not af­ter most key state GOP fig­ures fell right into line be­hind Trump de­spite his racist re­marks and at­tacks even on sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans.

One na­tional poll by the pro-im­mi­grant Amer­ica’s Voice or­ga­ni­za­tion found more than 80 per­cent of Latino vot­ers con­sider im­mi­gra­tion to­day’s most im­por­tant is­sue. The sur­vey found the vast ma­jor­ity wants a path to cit­i­zen­ship for il­le­gal im­mi­grants who have caused no trou­ble while liv­ing in Amer­ica for sev­eral years.

Repub­li­cans who take stances like that, in­clud­ing U.S. Reps. Jeff Den­ham and David Val­adao, both re­elected re­peat­edly in Cen­tral Val­ley dis­tricts with large Latino vot­ing blocs, are em­i­nently electable.

But so far, only a few Repub­li­cans have seen this light. The re­main­der refuse to make a sig­nif­i­cant shift on im­mi­gra­tion, pre­fer­ring to be hard-lin­ers who have at least pro­vided a coun­ter­point to the Democrats’ pro-im­mi­gra­tion stances, when they’d have a chance to win if they changed a bit.

Un­til this mind­set al­ters, ex­pect no ma­jor gains for the GOP in Cal­i­for­nia, which ex­cept in a few places is now about as ir­rel­e­vant as any ma­jor po­lit­i­cal party here ever has been.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.