Monday, December 20, 2010

DREAM Shattered

Senate Republicans may have allowed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, but there was no way it was going to let the DREAM act pass and so it didn't. This was a mistake and may very well bite them on the backside come 2012. The anti-immigrant phobia may play well for the basest of the base, but immigrants, legal or not, are the fastest growing demographic in the country, especially in the Southwest.

Some of the more savvy of the political insiders discovered that fact in California, a state in which the Democrats won across the board. Meg Whitman, who poured $140 million of her own money into her governor's race, got trounced by the frugal Jerry Brown. L.A. Times columnist George Skelton interviewed one of Whitman's senior advisors, Rob Stutzman, and Stutzman admits the Latino backlash did his candidate in.

Senior advisor Rob Stutzman isn't exactly spilling his guts about the former EBay chief's spectacular thumping. The billionaire lost to low-budget Jerry Brown by 54% to 41%, despite spending a record $160 million-plus, roughly $142 million of it her own money.

But the veteran Republican strategist is blaming the mini-landslide size of Whitman's loss on some ugly dust-ups over illegal immigration that alienated Latinos from the GOP.

And Skelton cites some crucial numbers to back that assertion up:

On Nov. 2, a record 22% of the California electorate was Latino. They voted heavily for Democrat Brown — somewhere between 64% and 80%, depending on which poll you believe.

Whatever the real figure, it should scare the GOP because Latinos are by far California's fastest-growing voter group.

It's not just California with the high numbers of Latinos, and it's not just Latinos who are affected by the anti-immigrant sentiment of Republicans. Stutzman gets that, even if a little too late.

"We've got to stop looking at it as purely a legal issue," he says. "If you want to make it a moral issue, we should appreciate the virtue of men and women trying to make the best life possible for their families.

"As long as radio talk show guys demagogue on the issue and Republicans are cowed and not willing to stand up to it, nothing's going to change."

Which is to say, as Skelton points out, that there won't be another Republican governor in California for the foreseeable future. It is also safe to say that as immigrant families fan out across the US, the anti-immigrant fervor could have some real consequences across the country. Meaningful and fair immigration reform may be dead this year, and probably for the next two years, but Republicans are the ones who will be affected the most when it comes to the next election.

But, hey! The GOP apparently doesn't care. That party's leaders have made it clear that the only important thing is that Obama looks bad come 2012.

We'll see how that works out for them.

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