Abel Maldonado is running for LG, whether or not he gets confirmed by the Legislature. Just going on resources, Maldonado should have a big leg up. Sen. Sam Anestad, the only serious threat to Maldonado in the primary, had less than $100K at the end of last year. At this point, the race is his to lose.
So, in his speaking slot, Maldonado is trying to recast the framing of Latinos in his party.
“They agree with us more than they agree with the Democrats,” Maldonado told the delegates. “But we don’t talk to them. Ronald Reagan, our great president, what did he say? ‘Hispanics are Republicans. They just don’t know it.’ We can’t put up a bumper sticker during an election that says ‘Viva the candidate’s last name’ and expect that they’re going to vote for us. It’s not going to happen. We can’t go out and have a fiesta and have tequila and mariachis and tacos and think they are going to register as Republicans. That’s not going to happen.” (LA Times)
Of course, there’s a lot to parse here. Of course, he’s right that the republicans need to do more than just have a Cinco de Mayo party and expect voters to come running. The way he said it was rather blunt, but true.
But where most of us would take issue would be the first two sentences in that paragraph. While Maldonado might be able to point out a few issues that Latinos might vote a bit conservatively on, there is a reason that Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, both here in California and throughout the nation. To this day, the party harbors and tosses red meat to nativists who ignore the hope and promise of America for the disfavored. Their immigration policies are more than strict, they are insulting. You can’t threaten to arrest community servants who help the sick and poor and expect to get votes from those who you demonize.
But beyond the simple immigration issue, the Republicans also need to take a long, hard look at their policies towards the middle class. Their refusal to support services don’t do any favors for working man. They claim to fight taxes, yet want to tax students with ever-increasing “fees.” They fight to protect corporations and the rich.
Look, I won’t argue with Maldonado’s statement that Latinos are dedicated to the pursuit of the American dream. But since Teddy Roosevelt left the Republican party, the Republicans haven’t had a real champion that speaks to anybody in the middle class, let alone the growing Latino electorate.
And frankly, Abel Maldonado isn’t that voice either. He plays every side of every issue in public. But when the rubber hits the road, he ends up going with the corporatist, moneyed side every time.