Rise of the Conservative Latinos

latino conservatives

Rise of the Conservative Latinos

By Geraldo L. Cadava

 

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Democrats may want to dismiss Chris Christie’s success with Latino voters, but if they do, they may just miss out on one of the biggest and most influential voting blocks in 2016.

TED CRUZ IN 2016?

Elephant sitting steps with American flag

Chris Christie’s re-election as governor of New Jersey earlier this month sparked another round of speculation that he would run for president in 2016, and, this time around, that he might choose New Mexico’s Republican Governor Susana Martinez as his running mate. In the homestretch, Martinez stumped for Christie in areas of New Jersey densely populated by Latinos. Statewide, he won a majority of their votes, even more than the vaunted 40 percent that George W. Bush won in the 2004 presidential race.

Susana Martinez in blue suit speaking at podium

SOURCE: GETTY

Gov. Susana Martinez

Democrats dismissed Christie’s success among Latinos as an anomaly that was due to his charisma and praiseworthy response to Hurricane Sandy. They noted the different outcome in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who drew attacks for mentioning rat control and immigration policy in the same breath. Perhaps such parries and thrusts are only public pronouncements, and Democratic strategists behind the scenes are dissecting what happened. I hope so, because counting on your opponents to screw up isn’t a sound political strategy.

Counting on your opponents to screw up isn’t a sound political strategy.

Republicans are eager to avoid an embarrassment in 2016 like the one they experienced in 2012. They attributed Mitt Romney’s defeat in no small part to his poor showing among Latinos. Almost the morning after, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus began a hard and steady drumbeat calling for “Hispanic outreach,” a term that paints a picture of aimless Latino voters who are there for the plucking if candidates just show up. Last month, the RNC allocated $10 million to outreach, hiring directors such as Jennifer Sevilla Korn — the former director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network — and sending foot soldiers to more than a dozen states to convert Latinos.

So far, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have captured most of the headlines, but with support from groups like the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, established in the late 1960s, and newer ones including the Latino National Republican Coalition and the Future Majority Caucus, scores of Latino conservatives have won elected positions across the country. The Future Majority Caucus wants to recruit more than 100 Latino Republicans to run for office in the near future, boasts about its multimillion-dollar fundraising successes and claims responsibility for helping to elect 15 new Latino Republicans in nine states in 2012 alone. This is the Latino conservative political machine at work.

Will a generally conservative platform that largely avoids appeals to the politics of ethnicity win the support of Latino voters?

As Latinos have spread across the country, so have Latino conservatives. Rep. Robert Cornejo hails from Missouri, Rep. Paul Espinosa from West Virginia, state Sen. Art Linares from Connecticut, and state Sen. Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez from Delaware. They’re lawyers, businesspeople and educators. Cornejo graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and is a partner at a law firm in Columbia. Espinosa is the general manager of a communications company and has served as president of a local Rotary Club and chamber of commerce. Before he ran for office, Linares volunteered for Sen. Marco Rubio. And Lopez is an administrator at the University of Delaware.

Thirty-something Rep. Marilinda Garcia of Salem, New Hampshire, is also on the way up, according to the RNC. She was first elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives at the age of 23, after graduating from Tufts University. Like other young Latino Republicans, Garcia aspires to higher office and is expected to run for the U.S. congressional seat currently held by Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat.

Marco speaking, standing left side of frame

SOURCE: GETTY

Marco Rubio

Some younger Latino Republicans identify with the histories that shaped Latino conservatism during an earlier era. The 25-year-old Linares says he’s influenced by his grandparents’ escape from Cuba after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. But most up-and-coming Latino Republicans walk in step with new-wave conservatism. They advocate policies indistinguishable from the mainstream or far right elements of their party: pro-growth business measures, lower taxes, smaller government, curtailed entitlements, pro-life, school choice, anti-Affordable Care Act. The list goes on, begging the question: What’s Latino about them at all?

Many seem to want to pull the GOP more toward the center on comprehensive immigration reform, a goal supported by some 80 percent of Latinos. But legislators such as Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho, who bailed on bipartisan deliberations this summer, cast doubt on even this mildly moderating influence. Others, including Governor Martinez of New Mexico and Gabriel Gomez of Massachusetts, who lost his bid for a U.S. Senate seat earlier this year, emphasized that their bootstrapping work ethic and traditional religious beliefs somehow stemmed from their Latino upbringing. On her website, Marilinda Garcia mentions her mixed Italian-American and Spanish-American heritage. But more often, conservative Latinos eschew their ethnicity — note the absence of accents over their names — and any discernable connections with something that might be called Latino politics.

Some younger Latino Republicans identify with the histories that shaped Latino conservatism during an earlier era.

Will a generally conservative platform that largely avoids appeals to the politics of ethnicity win the support of Latino voters? Perhaps. This is another reason to take Christie’s success among Latinos seriously. Many have noted that Latinos aren’t a politically coherent group. To win their support requires microtargeting specific Latino communities. President Obama used this strategy to great effect, placing distinct ads among Cubans and Puerto Ricans in Florida, for example.

Woman with american flag on her head in color.

SOURCE: JACK KURTZ/ZUMA PRESS/CORBIS

A woman uses an American flag for shade during an immigration reform march in Phoenix, October 2013.

Clearly, Democrats aren’t just sitting at home on their hands, watching a tide of Latino conservatives roll over them. They’re fighting for immigration reform, economic justice, educational opportunity and other things that many Latinos care about.

At the same time, Republicans still have a long way to go. Poll after poll suggests that Latinos view them as less sensitive to their needs than Democrats. Latinos hold them responsible for blocking immigration reform and causing the government shutdown.

But as part of Christie’s re-election campaign, a Mexican American from New Mexico appealed — apparently successfully — to the largely Puerto Rican and Dominican Latinos of New Jersey, where Mexicans and Mexican Americans account for only 14 percent of the Latino population. Might this suggest the potential of a generically conservative crossover appeal? If I were a Democratic strategist, I wouldn’t bet that it doesn’t.

Geraldo L. Cadava teaches Latino and U.S.-Mexico borderlands history at Northwestern University. He is the author of Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland.

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‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: ‘If We Don’t Turn To God At A Pretty Rapid Clip, We’re Going To Lose The United States Of America’

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‘Duck Dynasty’ Star: ‘If We Don’t Turn To God At A Pretty Rapid Clip, We’re Going To Lose The United States Of America’

"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson greets fans in the Duck Commander Compound at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson greets fans in the Duck Commander Compound at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

 NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Republicans are poised for successful midterm elections, but many of the party’s most conservative activists are looking ahead to something bigger.

“We need to save this country in 2016,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told the opening session of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on Thursday.

The annual event has grown into an opportunity for rising GOP stars to address some of the most conservative rank-and-file party faithful who influence the presidential nomination process.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal kicked of the list of White House hopefuls, delighting delegates by skewering President Barack Obama as “the most ideologically liberal” and “most incompetent president of our lifetimes.” Delegates will hear Friday and Saturday from tea party hero Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 2012 presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and others.

Jindal previewed what his presidential campaign pitch might look like, should he run, explaining his statewide private school tuition voucher program, privatization of the state’s public hospital system and a series of tax cuts as examples of a conservative renaissance in his state.

Jindal noted that the Obama administration sued unsuccessfully to block the tuition program, a move the governor called “cynical, immoral, hypocritical.” He also used some barbs at Obama to take indirect swipes at some of his potential White House rivals like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

“We’re watching on-the-job training,” Jindal said, because “we have a president who’d never run anything before.”

Governors, he said, make the best presidents, pointing to Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Bill Clinton.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance, helping introduce Phil Robertson, patriarch of cable television’s “Duck Dynasty.” Robertson has become a cultural icon for many conservative because of his outspoken Christian faith and commentary on sexuality, including opposition to same-sex marriage.

He mostly stayed clear of partisan politics. He blasted separation of church and state and called abortion a “blight” on society. He drew applause and shouts of “Amen” in calling for a national Christian revival and describing himself as a “Christocrat.”

“If we don’t turn to God at a pretty rapid clip,” he said, “we’re going to lose the United States of America.”

Neither Rubio nor Paul is scheduled to speak at the three-day gathering. Two of Jindal’s fellow governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — also are skipping it.

The conference comes as Republicans campaign to win complete control of Capitol Hill for the final two years of Obama’s tenure. The GOP is favored to retain its House majority and has a strong chance of winning a Senate majority to control all of Capitol Hill for the final two years of Obama’s term.

But delegates here, many of them festooned in red, white and blue, were brimming with talk of 2016.

While Priebus joined in the cheerleading, the chairman reprised his frequent call for the party to get better at the nuts and bolts of campaigning — from corralling a free-for-all primary process to reaching into minority communities that overwhelmingly support Democrats — before even thinking about who the 2016 nominee should be.

“We have a tale of two parties,” Priebus said. “We have a midterm party that doesn’t lose, and we have a presidential party that’s having a hard time winning.”

He noted obvious voter demographics that show Republican nominees must attract more young and minority voters. But public opinion polls also suggest that the party’s conservative positions — and its candidates’ emphasis — on issues like immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage are liabilities with some of the very groups they want to win over.

The chairman avoided saying the party should change any of its positions. “It’s not my job to write legislation,” he said, though he added later that “we could emphasize different things,” such as expanding school choice or loan programs for minority entrepreneurs. Whatever the policy, he said, “we have to show up and make the argument,” rather than concede swaths of the electorate.

Roy Luke, a retired Air Force master sergeant from Augusta, Ga., said the party’s problem is “more about image than substance.”

Luke argued that younger voters are eager to hear economic growth arguments from Republicans, while religiously conservative Latinos agree with the party’s socially conservative stances. “These are all Republicans,” he said, emphatically. “They just don’t know it yet.”

 

Cruz Calls President ‘Dangerous And Terrifying’

Cruz Calls President ‘Dangerous And Terrifying’

January 10, 2014 10:24 AM
File photo of Sen. Ted Cruz. (Photo credit - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of Sen. Ted Cruz. (Photo credit – JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas (CBS Houston/AP) — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has told a conservative conference that President Barack Obama is lawless, providing the right wing rhetoric that makes him so popular in his home state.

The conservative Republican laid out his reasoning for why he thinks the president is “dangerous and terrifying.”

According to the Statesman, Cruz also slammed Obama for what he referred to as a pattern of “lawlessness on a breathtaking scale.”

“We are a nation of laws and not men,” Cruz was additionally quoted as saying by the website. “If we had a system where a president can pick and choose what laws to follow at utter whim … that is seriously dangerous.”

The public policy conference at which he spoke was sponsored by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Minutes before his address, the organization posted a photograph of Cruz on their official Facebook page.

His address comes just one day after he released a statement on his official website that took aim at Obama’s “promise zone.”

“It’s altogether fitting that President Obama is … talking about income inequality because income inequality has increased dramatically as a direct result of his economic policies,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, rather than stop Washington’s job-killing policies, President Obama proposes yet more government spending and debt.”

It concludes, “All of America needs to be a real ‘Promise Zone’ – with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs – and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS, and rolling back abusive regulations.”

Cruz has garnered national attention by frequently condemning the Obama administration and the federal health care overhaul. In addition to calling for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he said he would replace it with a conservative alternative that would expand health care coverage.

Cruz also criticized Obama for not enforcing drug laws in states that have legalized use of marijuana.

Phillip Martin, deputy director of the liberal Progress Texas group, said Cruz’s positions have damaged the nation, particularly when he led Republican efforts to shut down the U.S. government if Obama did not repeal his health care program.

“Ted Cruz’s temper tantrums cost taxpayers billions of dollars and did nothing for the 6 million Texans without health insurance,” he said.

Cruz is often mentioned as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Sen. Cruz: ‘Obama Is The Most Radical President We’ve Ever Seen’

Sen. Cruz: ‘Obama Is The Most Radical President We’ve Ever Seen’

February 22, 2013 1:02 PM
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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Tea Party stalwart Sen. Ted Cruz has tough words for President Barack Obama in a recent interview.

“I think President Obama is the most radical president we’ve ever seen, but I think an awful lot of Republicans fail to stand for principle and contributed to getting us in this mess,” the Republican Texas senator told The Christian Broadcasting Network in a recent interview.

Cruz has already risen through the political ranks despite being a first-term senator. Cruz has taken a stand against Obama on immigration and gun control. The freshman senator also voted against John Kerry as secretary of state.

Cruz told The Christian Broadcasting Network that he is hoping to form a new Republican Party.

“Life, liberty, and property, the fundamental natural rights of man are given to every one of us by God, and the role of government fundamentally is to protect those rights,” Cruz said.

Despite his popularity, Cruz says he doesn’t pay attention to his own media coverage.

“I try to pay very little attention to the media,” Cruz explained. “It is, as you know, a fickle creature. They can say anything today, and tomorrow, it can change dramatically.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: We’ve got a job and right now I think the U.S. Senate is the battlefield. Unfortunately, Republicans are in the minority. This last election did not turn out as I had hoped, but I nonetheless think that if we had principled, effective conservatives who make the case that the most effective engine, for economic opportunity, the most effective engine for climbing the economic ladder, for helping those with nothing to achieve anything has been free markets, has been limited government has been the incredible, American system. If we make that case, we can preserve that system. And I think that’s what the stakes are.

And so, my focus every day is on the substance of winning the fight, stopping the out of control spending and deficits and debt so that our kids aren’t crushed with those debts and getting the economy growing again. You know in the last four years under President Obama, our economy has grown 1.5 percent a year. That’s less than half the historical average. The historical average since World War II has been 3.3 percent. If we can’t get the economy growing, we can’t solve any of these problems.

If you want to get the 23 million people who are struggling to find jobs back to work, get the economy growing. If you want to transform our federal balance sheet, change it from the train wreck it is right now, get the economy growing.

And so, every day in the Senate, my focus is championing small businesses, entrepreneurs, championing economic growth, because ultimately, economic growth is what provides opportunity, it’s what enables people, like my dad, to climb the economic ladder, to climb from nothing to achieve prosperity. That’s my focus, and I try to pay attention to nothing else, but focusing on that.

David Brody: Too many people choosing politics over principle?

Cruz: That’s exactly right. Look, I mean there are a lot of people in Washington, I think, who desperately, desperately want to be in elected office. There’s an old line that ‘Politics is Hollywood for ugly people.’ And there’s an element of truth to that. You see those in elected office who, the prospect of not being in elected office is terrifying to them.

And one of the sad realities is that it has been career politicians, in both parties, who’ve gotten us in this mess. I think President Obama is the most radical president we’ve ever seen, but I think an awful lot of Republicans, failed to stand for principle and contributed to getting us in this mess, and I think what we’ve seen in 2010 and to some degree in 2012 is a new generation of leaders stepping forward that are committed to fixing these problems.