It has been a very bizarre week as both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angelides competed for the state’s Latino voters.
State Senator Abel Maldonado, the highest ranking Mexican-American elected Republican in the state, committed a sin that furious Republicans have said is suicide for his career. His offense? He committed truth.
An interview with the Los Angeles Times that he arranged, was reported last week as follows, with quotes from Maldonado:
“Our governor cares about one thing only, and that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
The senator also said many Latinos thought Schwarzenegger had shown “a lack of respect” with the Latino community by spending too little time in Mexico.
“When he needs Latinos, Latinos are always there for him,” Maldonado said. “When Latinos need him, the answer’s been no.”
These quotes appeared in an article entitled “Rove Tells of ‘Shared Values’ With Latinos” as if that wasn’t a strange and awkward enough context for the Schwarzenegger camp which is trying to run from anything Bush Republican. According to Howard Dean, Rove “is the one person most responsible for the anti-immigrant platform being adopted by congressional Republicans around the country.”
Maldonado’s absence from the list of leaders supporting Schwarzenegger had already been noted in the press, as well as his statement of his when the Governor signed the budget that it “moves California backward.”
But here is what the same LA Times article reported about what Arnold Schwarzenegger had just said that was the match to the dry timber that Maldonado had become:
Immigration politics also surfaced in California’s gubernatorial race Tuesday, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger renewing his support for the civilian Minuteman border patrols at a campaign stop to showcase his Latino supporters in a Mexican restaurant in Lynwood.
“I support any time that a civilian wants to go and do the job that law enforcement cannot do,” Schwarzenegger said in response to a question.
“I’m for that. I’m not for any harassment. I’m not for anyone carrying weapons. I’m not for any of that.
“But I have, for instance, in my house — for years and years and years — I’ve hired private security to take care of my house, because I felt that the police could not really cover every single house and protect the children and families.”
The California State Democratic Party had already poked fun at the tepid efforts of Arnold and company to attract Latino voters and pointed to his record with the following release:
With the latest poll showing Latino voters in California overwhelmingly disapproving of Arnold Schwarzenegger Team Arnold will once again announce a new and improved version of Latinos for Arnold. The recent SJSU Poll shows that over 60 percent of Latinos disapprove of Arnold’s job as governor and a whopping 12 percent of Latinos would vote for him. Whoa, 12 percent? That’s a drop from the 19 percent in the same poll in March!
This new Latino “organization” will probably have a new banner and a nifty new name (Hispanics for Arnold), but will consist of the same old retreads and local Republican electeds who will be positioned for the cameras for this photo op never to be seen again during the campaign. (Hey, whatever happened to Abel Maldonado?)
Although it is doubtful that Arnold will say as much as he does on right-wing talk radio, this event should be good for a couple of laughs. Anyway, we have provided a few oldies, but goodies…
Will this be an opportunity for Arnold to divulge any secrets on his favorite Mexican vacation spots?
In a response to a question about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants the governor said, “‘you have to understand, I love Mexico, I have done four movies in Mexico.’” (Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2004)
Will he expand on his plan to close/secure the border?
“…he said ‘closing the borders’ was the solution to the nation’s illegal immigration problem. He apologized the next day for what he called a language error, explaining that he had meant to say ‘secure the borders.’” (The Associated Press, April 30, 2005)
Will he be wearing a cool Minuteman Project cap that he got for going on the John and Ken radio show?
“He also expressed enthusiasm for the Minuteman Project – volunteer activists that are patrolling the borders in Arizona – and that Schwarzenegger would welcome the Minutemen in California. President Bush has denounced the group as ‘vigilantes’.” (The Associated Press, April 30, 2005)
“Schwarzenegger said the controversial minutemen are doing a ‘terrific job.’” (Contra Costa Times, April 30, 2005)
Or if he gets asked a tough question about immigration policy will he just fall back on his favorite line?
When questioned about his praise of the Minutemen Project he responded, “I love Mexico.” (Inside Bay Area, May 24, 2005)
Compare Arnold’s miscues and lack of success with Latinos with the “Statement From Latino Leaders for Phil Angelides” and the breadth and depth of support evidenced in that document.
Why is this important? Consider the article “Governor out to retake Latino voters: IMMIGRATION DEBATE HAS BLED SUPPORT FROM RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN” from the San Jose Mercury and what a Republican politico has to say:
The Republican governor enjoyed unusually high support from Latinos in the 2003 recall election, but his popularity among that group plummeted after a series of miscues — praising the controversial Minutemen border patrollers and pursuing what many considered an elitist agenda last year. He also angered some Latino voters by vetoing bills that would grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
Even as Schwarzenegger has steered clear of the strident anti-illegal immigration politics dominating Republicans nationally, recent polls have found tepid Latino support for his re-election.
“He’s not going to be re-elected if he doesn’t get one-third of the Latino vote; that’s just simple mathematics” and also about what Schwarzenegger earned in 2003, said California Target Book co-editor Tony Quinn, who has analyzed ethnic voting patterns for more than two decades. “No Republican has won the state for president or for governor without getting a third of the Latino vote.”…
Angelides enjoys an enviable lead among Latinos in early polling. A San Jose State University survey released last week showed him leading Schwarzenegger 58 percent to 12 percent, while the Public Policy Institute of California showed Angelides ahead 47 percent to 26 percent before the June primary was settled. And Angelides enjoys the endorsements of big-name Latinos, such as United Farm Workers icon Dolores Huerta.
Maldonado was very close to the Governor and knew quite well what he was saying. There is a sad way in which his closeness to Schwarzenegger is described:
When Schwarzenegger ran in the 2003 recall, Maldonado was perhaps his most important ally in attracting Latino votes. A licensed pilot, he campaigned up and down the state, and appeared on Spanish-language television.
“They had him out like a show horse,” said Leo Lacayo, the San Francisco Republican Party’s Latino outreach spokesman.
A show horse? Is that the best the Republican Party’s own outreach folks can say about his relationship with the Governor? With that kind of outreach, looks to me like the Latinos won’t be for the Governor now, when he needs them.