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Democrats Count On Blacks, Hispanics To Turn Texas Tide Menendez Attacks GOP Attack Ads Pre-Election Poll Shows Latino Voters Favor Democrats By 3-To-1 While Giving Thumbs-Up to Bush's Overall Job Performance GOP's Hispanics Try To Boost Party's Image In California
Democrats Count On Blacks, Hispanics To Turn Texas Tide
BY PAUL WEST
October 31, 2002
DALLAS - The future of the Democratic Party is getting road-tested this fall in the biggest Republican state. It has been a bumpy ride.
With less than a week to go before the election, Republicans hold a considerable lead in the gubernatorial and Senate contests in Texas, according to the latest statewide polls. It would take a huge turnout by black and Hispanic voters to erase that advantage, something few here are predicting.
Democrats had hoped to end the Republican monopoly on major offices in President Bush's home state by promoting their unusually diverse ticket -- headed by a wealthy Hispanic candidate for governor and a pro-business black nominee for Senate.
''We're just trying to reinvent a Democratic Party,'' said Dan McClung, a Democratic consultant who is part of a posse of hired guns trying to round up voters, especially newly registered Hispanics.
The reinvention experiment is being closely watched by strategists in both parties, who regard the nation's fast-growing Hispanic population as key to their future success. But as the campaign draws to a close, it appears the best hope for Texas Democrats is to regain some lower-level statewide offices.
In the governor's race, Republican incumbent Rick Perry, the former lieutenant governor who took office in 2000 when Bush resigned to become president, holds a double-digit edge over Democratic oilman and banker Tony Sanchez, the first Hispanic nominee for governor of Texas.
Sanchez, a novice candidate whose previous political experience was limited to giving campaign cash to others -- including hundreds of thousands to Bush -- may sink as much as $70 million of his personal fortune into his campaign. If he loses, he could set a record -- for futility -- spending more of his money in a failed effort than any previous candidate.
''Never in the history of American politics has a candidate spent so much and said so little,'' said Perry, who has kept Sanchez on the defensive over allegations that a savings-and-loan he owned was used to launder Mexican drug money in the early 1980s. The challenger, whose thrift institution was never prosecuted in connection with the case, has tried to refute the charges, branding the governor ''a liar'' for his latest attack ad, which links Sanchez to the death of a federal drug agent.
In the race for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Phil Gramm, Republican Attorney General John Cornyn leads Ron Kirk, the first black nominee for Senate in Texas, by about 10 percentage points. Both sides say the final result could be closer, with control of the Senate potentially at stake.
To spur minority turnout, the Democratic ''Dream Ticket,'' as it has been dubbed, has campaigned in tandem, including a tour last week through the Rio Grande valley, the predominantly Mexican-American region along the border with Mexico.
Even with heavy black and Hispanic support, a Democrat still needs to get almost one of every three white votes to win statewide. ''That's a tough sell for either a black or a Hispanic candidate,'' said McClung, a veteran of campaigns in this conservative state.
Republicans are clinging tightly to Bush, who has led an all-out effort to avoid an embarrassing defeat on his home turf.
At the same time, Democrats are discovering that merely running a Hispanic candidate for governor won't guarantee the grass-roots excitement they need to generate a huge Mexican-American turnout.
Recent polling shows Perry getting three out of 10 Hispanic votes in the governor's race, an unusually high figure against a Hispanic candidate.
Menendez Attacks GOP Attack Ads
By Mark Shaffer
October 30, 2002
FLAGSTAFF - The U.S. House's top-ranking Hispanic member lashed out Tuesday at repetitive Republican attack ads against minority candidates, especially Democrat George Cordova in the 1st Congressional District, saying that Latino reaction would "haunt their (GOP) party for a long time."
Speaking at a Phoenix news conference, Rep. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also criticized a Republican ad blitz in a Nevada congressional race involving Democrat Dario Herrera and in a Texas gubernatorial race that includes Democrat Tony Sanchez. Menendez said Sanchez is accused in one new television ad in Texas of having culpability in the death of a Drug Enforcement Agency agent.
"These are the most highly contentious, negative and highly inflammatory personal attacks, especially against candidates of color, that I've seen," Menendez said, referring to his 28 years of public life.
National Republican groups have spent $2 million during the past month in attack ads against Cordova, which have saturated the Valley and northern Arizona TV markets. Cordova is running against Republican insurance executive Rick Renzi in the newly created rural district, which covers more than half the state, in Tuesday's election.
Although Menendez wouldn't go so far as to call the ads racist, he said he was disturbed by the darkened black-and-white images of Cordova that many of the ads portray.
In one of the spots, Cordova is taken to task for not paying a $1,194 tax lien filed by the state in 1996, which Cordova has said he was unaware of. Another spot cites four failed businesses that Cordova, a venture capitalist, was involved in during the mid-1990s. The most controversial ad accuses Cordova of stealing from 40 investors in an olive oil production company in which he was business manager.
Those investors, know as Olivejack LLC, filed suit against Cordova and his group, Kalm Group Holdings LLC, and the Kalm group filed a counterclaim saying Olivejack breached the investment agreement. A federal judge ordered the verdict sealed but Cordova said the case was settled in his favor.
But Steve Schmidt, a National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman in Washington, D.C., said Cordova is a "total fraud."
"He's finding that in politics you can't deceive like you can in private business because the truth will come out. That whole press conference reeks of desperation."
But the attack ads have been heavily criticized throughout the district, even by workers within Renzi's campaign, who fear the "carpet-bombing" of Cordova actually has strengthened his candidacy. One recent letter writer to the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper of Flagstaff said she contributed money to Cordova's campaign out of anger each time she saw one of the attack ads.
Some GOP members worry that "big-city" campaign tactics are backfiring in this rural part of the state, which has never had a high-profile political race with national implications. The race, one of 15 heavily contested House races around the country, could determine who controls the House. They also say that a tactical error is being made in not turning attention back to an emphasis on Renzi's strengths in the final week because he has risen from a single-digit to a double-digit lead in the polls.
The most recent polls show Renzi with a 12-point advantage in the far-flung district, which has an 8 percent Democratic registration edge.
"I'll just be glad when this thing is over with," said Mike DeLao, a Safford businessman. "If you're not being hammered with the hit pieces on TV, you're getting blasted with telephone calls about Cordova being sued for this and that. I'm just sick of it."
Tomas Rivera Policy Institute Pre-Election Poll Shows Latino Voters Favor Democrats By 3-To-1 While Giving Thumbs-Up to Bush's Overall Job Performance
October 29, 2002
CLAREMONT, Calif. via COMTEX/-- A majority of Latino voters in California and New York are opposed to having U.S. forces go to war with Iraq in contrast to national public opinion surveys, according to a poll of 809 registered Latino voters in the two states released today by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
The survey found that 60 percent oppose a war with Iraq compared to 32 percent that are in favor and 9 percent undecided. While there is opposition to a war in Iraq, the poll found strong support for President Bush.
"It is obvious that President Bush's call to action is not resonating among Latino voters," said Dr. Harry Pachon. "Although Bush gets a nod of approval for his overall response to national issues, Latino voters still see the Democratic party as meeting their needs."
Latino Electorate Defies Simple Categorization
The TRPI poll showed two-thirds of Latinos are satisfied with the way George W. Bush is handling his overall job as president. More specifically, 62 percent responded that the President is doing a good job handling the nation's economic problems and 73 percent said he is doing a good job of handling the national security issues facing the nation.
Despite continued support for Bush, more than one-year after the terrorist attacks, Latino voters in the two states still demonstrate strong ties to the Democratic Party with 69 percent of registered voters identifying as Democrats (compared to 15 percent Republican and 16 percent Independent). In addition, when asked which party could best address the most important problems facing the nation, Latinos sided with the Democratic Party by a 3-to-1 margin over the Republican Party. A looming war with Iraq and public safety continue to be high priorities for Latino voters, yet the economy was seen as the most pressing issue facing the nation, ranked ahead of national security concerns.
Latinos Support Increased Political Voice
On other issues, 70 percent of respondents felt that Hispanics or Latinos have too little influence in American politics compared to only 17 percent that felt the level of influence was just about right. The support for increased Latino political representation was evidenced by the fact that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans were open to the idea of voting for a Latino candidate of the opposite party.
State Specific Results
In state races, Latino voters sent mixed signals by supporting both a Republican and Democratic candidate for Governor. In New York, Republican George Pataki drew 40 percent of the vote with Democratic challenger Carl McCall polling only 16 percent and Independent Tom Golisano at 8 percent, with 22 percent still undecided.
In California, Democrat Gray Davis held 41 percent support among Latino voters with Republican Bill Simon attracting 11 percent and Green candidate Peter Camejo at 4 percent, with 31 percent undecided. In Congressional elections however, over 60 percent of Latinos in both states plan to vote for the Democratic candidate.
Latino voters in California were also disappointed by Governor Davis' decision to veto legislation extending driver's licenses to undocumented residents. The bill, A.B. 60, authored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo would have allowed immigrants in the process of legalizing their status to obtain a driver's license after completing a background check. Overall, 59 percent of Latino voters said they opposed the action by Davis, and 70 percent of naturalized immigrant voters opposed his veto, a growing segment of the Latino electorate.
"This is an important issue for all Californians. Of the 22 million drivers, 10% are unlicensed and uninsured. Further, this has become the number one civil rights issue for the Latino community and these findings confirm the broad based support among Latinos for members of their family and the community," said Assemblyman Gil Cedillo.
Founded in 1985, the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute advances critical, insightful thinking on key issues affecting Latino communities through objective, policy-relevant research, and its implications, for the betterment of the nation. For more information on this or other studies, contact TRPI at (909) 621-8897 or its New York office at (212) 854-3646, ext. 2292. TRPI reports are also available online at www.trpi.org
U.S. Born 51% Union membership 26%
Foreign Born 47% Less than $25K 33%
Less than HS 39% $25K - $50K 25%
HS Grad 21% $50K - $80K 11%
Some College 18% $80K and up 7%
College Grad + 19% Refused Income 25%
Married 61% Male 47%
* Methodology of TRPI pre-election survey
The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute conducted interviews with a total of 809 Latino citizens who are registered to vote in two states -- 408 registered voters in California and 401 in New York -- during an over 10-day period of October 11th to October 23rd in 2002. Samples were drawn from voter lists with Spanish surnames. The interviews were conducted via phone in the language of respondent's choice -- either English or Spanish. The margin of sampling error for each statewide survey is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
SOURCE Tomas Rivera Policy Institute
CONTACT: Candice Vega or Stephen Chavez, both of VPE Public Relations,
+1-626-793-9335, for Tomas Rivera Policy Institute
GOP's Hispanics Try To Boost Party's Image In California
State Republicans Hope Six Congressional Candidates Can Fix Party's Anti-Immigrant Image
By Mark Sherman
October 28, 2002
WASHINGTON -- Six Hispanic candidates are running for Congress in California as Republicans, a symbol of hope for a party that has struggled with an anti-immigrant image.
Apart from the candidates themselves, few people expect these Republicans to win in congressional districts in which Hispanics may be a majority but registered Democrats easily outnumber Republicans.
Some Democratic Hispanics dismiss the candidates as window-dressing for a party still trying to recover from Proposition 187, a 1994 initiative that sought to bar most state services to illegal immigrants. The measure was pushed by then-Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and passed.
"Why don't we see Republicans supporting Hispanics in races where they really have a shot to win?" said Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who faces Republican Jeff Chavez in the race for her Orange County congressional seat. "The answer is they don't really want Hispanics to win. They're not giving them the support, the dollars, the machinery."
Still, as Republicans try to shake off the lingering effects of Prop. 187, they are looking to candidates whose mere presence on the ballot is a part of the GOP's attempt to be more inclusive.
The issue is critically important in California, where Hispanics are expected to be the largest population group within 20 years. Already, no ethnic group has a majority in the state.
Hispanics have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats since the mid-1990s.
In California, where four Hispanic Republicans serve in the state Legislature, 14 Hispanic candidates are running as Republicans for Congress, the state Legislature and insurance commissioner.
Nationwide, the Republican National Committee has identified 93 Hispanic Republicans who are not incumbents seeking local, state and congressional seats. RNC spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said the list may be not be complete, and she could not provide numbers for past elections.
There also are 125 elected Hispanic Republicans at all levels nationwide, Castillo said.
Maria Garcia, a 39-year-old nutritionist and mother of six children, is typical of the Republicans who are trying to make inroads among Hispanic voters. She is running in the 51st Congressional District, which includes a slice of San Diego and hugs the border east through Imperial County.
Garcia is trying to attract Democratic voters -- mainly Hispanics who she said are more conservative than Democratic incumbent Bob Filner of San Diego.
Politically inexperienced and without financial support from the Republican Party, Garcia contrasts her heritage with Filner's New York roots.
"I fit the demographics of the district. It is majority Hispanic," she said. "I have family on both sides of the border. I have been a frequent border crosser."
Luis Vega, the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles, said the success of opposition parties in Latin America in breaking the dominant party's hold on power also is awakening voters here.
The most visible example is Vicente Fox's election as president of Mexico in 2000, a victory that ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's 71-year hold on the presidency.
"More people are realizing that one party is not the answer to all the problems," said Vega, who calls himself a "neo-Republicano."
Democrats acknowledge they cannot lose Hispanic support and maintain their stranglehold on elected offices in California. Only one Republican, Secretary of State Bill Jones, holds statewide office.
But they say voters will not be taken in by symbolism and rhetorical flourishes that do not match Republican policy on such key issues as immigration and health care.
"I think in California especially, voters are wise to that game. They know with 187 and other issues that Republicans do not produce for minorities," said Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk, who faces Alex Burrola in the 38th Congressional District in November.
Two years ago, Republican congressional candidates in California included longtime TV anchorman Rich Rodriguez and schoolteacher Gloria Matta Tuchman, a leader of the campaign to end bi-lingual education.
Rodriguez ran a strong race in losing to Democratic incumbent Cal Dooley of Hanford. Tuchman won 35 percent of the vote against Sanchez in the same election in which President George W. Bush improved upon the 1996 presidential election results by winning 29 percent of California's Hispanic vote.
Gerald Parsky, the president's point man in California, has embarked on a long-term plan to boost Republican support among Hispanics -- a key to winning statewide races.
Republicans have made progress under Bush in persuading minorities that the party is "welcoming, part of which is encouraging quality people to run for office," Parsky said.
While Democrats will continue to use Proposition 187 to batter Republican candidates, its effectiveness probably already is fading, said Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
Republican registration of Hispanics is increasing in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where Hispanic Republicans hold some elected offices. And Pachon said Republicans need only incremental gains among Hispanic voters to reverse their decline statewide.
Republican plans probably won't help David Hernandez Jr., an independent insurance adjuster who is running against Rep. Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood.
"The fact is, he still has $1 million in the bank and I have none," said Hernandez, whose campaign headquarters is his rent-controlled apartment.
Then he corrected himself, pointing out he recently received a $500 check from the RNC.
"That's the biggest Republican contribution I've received," he said. "I can make a whole lot of photocopies."
On the Net:
Democratic Party: http://www.dnc.org
Republican Party: http://www.rnc.org