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January 28, 2015

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Will ad campaign urging Hispanic voters to stay home work?

In wake of Angle’s anti-illegal-immigration ad, a new conservative campaign urges Hispanics not to vote


Justin M. Bowen

Early voters fill the Galleria at Sunset mall voting station Saturday, the first day of early voting. Whether Hispanic voters turn out to vote in large numbers could be pivotal in the race between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle.

Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

In the waning weeks of the election, all eyes are focusing on one ethnic voting bloc — Hispanics, who have emerged as the make it or break it constituency in Nevada’s tight Senate race.

The common wisdom is clear-cut: If Hispanics make it to the polls in large numbers, Democrats can win. If they don’t, Republicans stand a better chance of victory.

As politicians and activists scramble to turn out the Hispanic vote, as the Democrats are pushing, or to overwhelm or suppress the Latino vote, as some conservatives are trying, the 2010 Senate contest is turning into a race about race.

In Nevada, accusations about racially reprehensible practices started flying a few weeks ago. That’s when Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle aired an TV advertisement about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s immigration record, featuring images of menacing-looking Mexican men with the words “Illegal Aliens” superimposed at the bottom of the screen.

Hispanic activists decried the advertisement as “race-baiting” — a charge the Angle campaign denied repeatedly, even up through this weekend, when she told an assembly of Hispanic high school students at Rancho High School that she wasn’t sure the images featured were of Latinos at all.

“You know, I don’t know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me,” she said, in an effort to defuse a situation that, judging by the renewed backlash, only reinforced the argument of those who have charged her with racial insensitivity, and other more serious labels.

But racial consciousness permeates every election cycle, and racially tinged tactics aren’t a new practice in American politics. Because say what you will about them — they often work.

Racial politics aren’t always, or only, about racism. Get-out-the-vote efforts that targeted black and Hispanic communities are credited in large part for turning the tide in certain swing states toward President Barack Obama in 2008. Across Nevada, Hispanic activists are trying to reactivate that momentum for the 2010 cycle.

Efforts to suppress the vote can also come from within a community — as is taking place in Nevada.

On Monday, a group called “Latinos for Reform” — an independent political organization that is not subject to disclosure rules — joined the electoral fray, with two commercials urging Hispanics to sit out the election.

The group made a name for itself during the 2008 election cycle campaigning against Obama, on the grounds that he favored blacks over Hispanics.

The leader of that group, Robert Deposada, a conservative pundit on Spanish-language Univision who once ran President George W. Bush’s commission to advance privatization of Social Security, said Hispanics should boycott the polls because Obama has not yet delivered on his campaign promise to tackle immigration reform.

Other Hispanic activists immediately decried the advertisements.

“No Nevadan should be silenced or have their vote suppressed, especially those in the Hispanic community, who have been disproportionately impacted during these tough economic times,” said Luis Valera, vice president of Las Vegas’ Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Valera was joined by other Hispanic leaders in calling for Republican candidates Angle and Brian Sandoval — himself a Hispanic — to denounce the ads, and for radio, television, and Internet providers to pull the plug on the commercials.

The Latinos for Reform commercial campaign to suppress the Hispanic vote, whether or not by design, may complement Angle’s efforts to turn out the anti-illegal immigrant vote.

Angle’s commercial — which is no longer airing, after a copyright infringement tiff with Getty Images over the featured photograph — isn’t the first commercial to have earned charges of race-baiting.

David Vitter, a Republican senator from Louisiana campaigning for re-election, is earning as much, if not more, vitriol for a series of anti-illegal immigration commercials — one of which used the same photo — that juxtaposed white and Hispanic people in a way that portrays Hispanics as outsiders.

Hispanic advocates have also likened Angle’s ad to the now-infamous Willie Horton ad of 1988, and Jesse Helms’ 1990 Senate campaign, which featured a pair of white hands crumpling up a letter as a narrator said: “You needed that job, but they had to give it to a minority.”

Both were heavily criticized at the time they aired for racially motivated fear-mongering. But in both of those instances, the candidates airing the controversial ads won.

And Vitter? Despite a past term that even put the senator at the center of a national call-girl controversy, he’s leading his opponent by double-digits.

To be sure, the Hispanic populations of Louisiana and Nevada aren’t comparable. At 26 percent of the state population, and 15 percent of the 2008 electorate, Hispanics in Nevada represent a potentially election-swinging force in the midterm race.

Hispanic advocates have said that Hispanics are a unique force to be reckoned with — and warned that the community in Nevada will respond to efforts to sideline, stereotype, and marginalize them by turning out in droves to the polls.

But those numbers weren’t visible this weekend, at a pair of campaign rallies headlined by gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid and Senate candidate Harry Reid, who commented in his remarks at the small size of the crowd.

Hispanic leaders admit the ad worries them. With voters already angry about the economy, worried about jobs, frustrated by inaction — especially on immigration reform — in Washington and punch drunk from near-constant negative campaign commercials, they know the ad could keep people from the polls.

“Of course I’m worried,” said Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, a nonpartisan group that encourages Latinos to be politically active, adding that immigration trumps jobs and the economy as Hispanic voters’ top concern. “We should all be worried.”

“Please go out and vote,” pleaded Democrat Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, a state Senate candidate, at an appearance with other Hispanic leaders to respond to the advertisements. “We can’t let them win.”

Sun reporter Delen Goldberg contributed to this story.

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  1. It's sad that the Republican Party also known as the Parent Company of the Tea-Party doesn't realize that this was the first year whites did not have more children born than minorities. So in other words the old white vote won't win elections by themselves much longer.

    It may be a "good" short term political strategy to demean, and otherwise dismiss minorities as the "other people" and somehow they're "not american" (like white people were here before they opened the border for themselves, and showed the Native people the door to the great beyond in the most horrific ways). In the long term though, think about how funny it will seem when the Republican Party tries to reach out to the minority vote, by saying things like "The Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, we freed the slaves, vote for us, We Freed The Slaves." Sorry but the Republican party of today is the party of hatred and bigotry which back then was the Democratic Party, so the roles have switched since then.

    The Republican Party would be wise to not do the Michael Steele black puppet copy Democrats or we look racist stuff anymore. Show exactly how your policies will help minorities, and if you can't don't ever, ever, ever expect that minorities will ever vote anything but Democratic.

    The Tea-Party it old, angry, bitter, racist (in my opinion, and just because we don't have you on video saying the N-Word does not mean you are not racist, coded language is easily detectable by all non-whites, sorry, try something else) and doesn't realize the time they are yearning for had less rights for every group, except old white males.

    So unless the Republicans want their party to go the way of the Whigs, they need to take a long look at the population of now, how white's alone can currently win elections, and the population of tomorrow (10+ yrs) and develop a long term strategy for courting the minority vote. Being anti-Obama, anti-Immigrant, anti-Gay, anti-Anything Non-White (does not impress the youth of America, young people are disgusted by intolerance) WILL help you win elections in the 2,4,6, & 8 year range, but after that the GOP will be looking at being an only regional, only white political party, change or go bye-bye.

  2. This tactic does not surprise me. Of course the Republican/Tea Party desperately is searching for some Latino, some Hispanic organization that will help them stop other Hispanics in Nevada from voting.

    Especially now. Because that's all they have. Their candidate (Sharron Angle) participates wholeheartedly in race baiting, xenophobia, prejudice, bias and fear mongering so badly they are desperate.

    The Republican/Tea Party crowd despise Hispanics showing up at the voting booths. Then on the other hand, they have done everything in their power to encourage them to march arm-in-arm in lockstep, fire in their eyes, with the total commitment to slap every Republican out of power in Nevada that is in sight. Because they stand to gain absolutely nothing.

    The next step we will see is blatant voter fraud. The Republican/Tea Party types will encourage people not to vote as much as they can. While at the same time, they will yell and scream about voter fraud if they do show up.

    The Republican/Tea Party types deserve everything they get for their rhetoric. The Hispanic vote here in Nevada will prove devastating for them. Because they can only take so much of their crap. They have unintentionally been motivated.

  3. A Paid Political Advertisement by the Las Vegas Sun. They approve this message.

  4. Correction on my post. "A Free Political Advertisement" by the Las Vegas Sun.

  5. It's an UGLY, UGLY, FUGLY group that would endeavour to impinge upon the rights of AMERICAN CITIZENS to VOTE in an ELECTION.

    Anyone who supports this kind of UNAMERICAN ACTIVITY ought to be ASHAMED & embarrassed...
    But I am quite certain they are NOT.

    Way to go, "CONSERVATIVES"...
    Showing your true colors, AGAIN.

  6. So how is that 14+% unemployment rate Harry Reid has run up, working out in the Hispanic community ???

    Pre Harry Reid taking control of the Senate, Unemplyment was 4.4%.

    Today after Harry Reid's handiwork he has it up to 14+%.

    If you are just lovin' all the people being out of work, I am sure Harry Reid could get it up to 20% for you if he tries a bit harder.

  7. Disgusting display of just how low the GOP will stoop.

    Why would anyone suggest that anyone not vote? They will do anything to try to win an election including stealing it.

    This is a democracy even if the GOP would prefer otherwise. It is our obligation as Americans to vote.

    Shame on the GOP.

  8. @Judy,

    "Why would anyone suggest that anyone not vote? They will do anything to try to win an election including stealing it."
    Wouldn't be the first time, would it, Judy?
    The Republicans, with Karl Rove being the Leader of the pack, (or pac, as it were) HAVE NO SHAME, and have stooped to a new low on this one. Yes, that's saying a lot...

  9. Just your average Republican Tea Party doing things the only way they know how.

  10. I just hope the word gets out to the Hispanic communities in Nevada that this is all a typical Republican Party ploy. They have NEVER been able to drum up the Hispanic vote, so what do they do? They tell them the voting booths are closed. They tell them they are not needed. They tell them a wrong date for the election. They will tell them ANYTHING so they don't vote.

    And there is no mistake they are being targeted by the Republicans this way.

    I really, really don't blame them marching to voting booths arm in arm to exercise their voting rights, rights which are to be enjoyed by EVERYONE.

    And the Republicans are not going to like it when they cast their votes.

    I would think there is only so much hard working Hispanics in Nevada can put up with, their patience has went past the boiling point.

    Thanks, Republicans. You just woke up a sleeping giant.

  11. You are so right gmag. it is just business as usual for Rove and his PAC's.

    This scheme should ignite a fire under Hispanics to get out and vote.

    I think we will find evidence after this election that lots of foreign money is coming into CrossRoads America and CrossRoads GPS to buy the elections.

  12. Hispanic families see through the bs of Reid....

    1) We need jobs - and Reid has led to unemployment including unemployment for Hispanics.
    2) We need a cost of living for our Hispanic seniors - and Reid turned his back for 2 years in a row.
    3) Hispanics take pride in their families and home and Reid allowed their home values to sharpen decline and be under water.
    4) Reid has led to higher insurance premiums for hispanic Children.

    Yes - Reid failed policies and political game playing hurts all, including Hispanics.

    Hispanics don't let other Hispanics vote for Reid.

  13. Hispanics will NOT vote for Reid, simply because he refuses to take care of our families. He is #1 in Lost Jobs, Lost Home Value; Lost Family Values.....
    and he is a loser....

    Hispanics don't want Reid --and this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It is just that Reid has FAILED all Americans, including Hispanics.

    Hispanics don't want you Reid - hide your face....
    and walk the other way because we will vote you out.

  14. So many lies and made up stories by Reid......
    Reid - stop your lies, stop your bribes....
    you are so hurtful to everyone......
    and if you tried to be nice, you could not be.

    Failed Reid - lost jobs, home value, increased costs; failed our seniors; failed our military; failed Nevada....a failed man...a creep...

    Reid go home....
    You are not you cannot speak for us.
    You did not take care of you cannot speak for us.

    Hispanics don't want you reid - so many lies.
    We are family people and when we see a rat, we know.

  15. @lovestroke - Have you heard that Angle is not Hispanic? She is Asian. She said so herself.. I guess she can not speak for you.

  16. Sr. Robert Deposada should be ashamed of himself for asking Hispanics not to vote!!! Of course, the cuestion here is if Sr Deposada may be getting paid by special interest groups such as the Tea Party on a Divide and Conquer plataform??? Who don't want or are afraid that the Hispanic votes may go to the Democrats- who at this point seem to be the only ones throwing a lifeline to Latino causes; such as Immigration Reform and the Dream act!!!???