An excellent story in today's Durango Herald from reporter Dale Rodebaugh, writing about a new report on the growing power of Latino voters nationally and in Colorado:
A fast-growing Hispanic population will have increasing importance in Colorado and national elections, statistics from a new report show.
The votes are there for either major party, but Republicans appear to be turning their back on Latinos, three commentators said during a call-in Wednesday regarding the survey prepared by America’s Voice and Latino Decisions.
The panelists were prominent Democrat Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado and secretary of the Interior; Gabriel Sanchez, director of research at Latino Decisions and professor of political science at the University of New Mexico; and Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota…
In the days since Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob "Mexican Time" Beauprez defeated primary challenger Tom Tancredo, local press and political pundits have been quick to declare that the GOP "dodged a bullet" by avoiding a candidate for governor who would have fundamentally repelled Latino voters. Unfortunately for Republicans, given Beauprez's record and the continued push rightward away from engagement with Latinos by the GOP as a whole–whether they like it or not, as Eric Cantor can tell you–we can't say the party's prospects for engaging this rapidly-growing segment of the electorate are really any better today.
Salazar said Republicans running for office this year are on the wrong side of issues. He cited immigration reform, health care and minimum wage.
In choosing a candidate to run against Gov. John Hickenlooper in November, Salazar said, the Republican choice of Bob Beauprez was a mistake.
“Beauprez is equal to Tom Tancredo,” Salazar said. “His views are too extreme.” [Pols emphasis]
Republicans are writing off the Latino vote, Salazar said.
Although immigration is an important natural focus for many Latino voters, it's silly to stereotype Latinos as voters who only care about that one issue. The GOP's dogmatic opposition to health care reform, opposition to raising the minimum wage, and overall perception as a party that doesn't care about the lives of working class citizens–all of these work against the GOP when trying to win over Latino voters. In addition to grandstanding against immigrants to attack Democratic opponent Bill Ritter in his last gubernatorial campaign, Beauprez's lurch rightward to pander to the Tea Party in recent years leaves him vulnerable on all of these issues and more.
Also, Latinos really hate the "birther" stuff, so Beauprez should probably have not gone there either.