File this recent piece in the LA Times under “stuff we already know”, but it is particularly timely given the rise of Senator Marco Rubio and Governors Sandoval and Martinez in the southwest:
“”The Republicans, by electing three national Latino leaders, have really challenged the Democratic Party,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, until recently one of the highest-ranking Latino Democrats in the country.
“Democrats have to recruit more Latino candidates and they have to start siding with Latinos on redistricting and other issues,” Richardson said, “because many Latinos perceive that the party doesn’t care enough about electing more Hispanic officials.”
Richardson’s concerns were echoed by Latino lawmakers, political activists and campaign strategists across the country. To them, the Democratic Party — while benefitting from a surge in Latino votes — has, in particular, not done enough to help Latino candidates move from city council, legislative and congressional seats to the party’s highest elected offices.”
While many take issue with the GOP stance on issues like immigration, defense spending, Medicare, and more, you have to admit that the Republicans do a great job of finding photogenic and compelling Latino people to run for office. But do note that Martinez and Sandoval failed to win the a majority of the Latino vote in New Mexico and in Nevada and that Marco Rubio lost the non-Cuban Latino vote in Florida.
Although the majority of Latinos do lean Democratic, the Latino vote is still up for grabs with some Latino Democrats becoming disillusioned with the party, especially those who were expecting quicker action on the immigration issue. While the GOP seems to become more extreme on immigration and other issues, it’s time to Latinos to start to think beyond partisanship. A case could be made that both parties would have to more overtly court the community if more of us were registered as “declined to state” or independent.
And finally, the Democrats would be wise to cultivate Latino candidates of a higher caliber because the GOP has already learned how to do it in three high profile states in the last election cycle. When an organization is successful in achieving something, they are better poised to improve upon that success in the future.