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While GOP Parties In New York, Arizona Looks Ominous
[Recently by Bryanna Bevens: The Rise Of The Treason Tort]
See also Arizonans Beware—Mexico Is Watching Prop. 200, by Allan Wall.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was the keynote speaker at the Republican Convention in New York City Monday night. He will be host of "Wednesday Night Live," the convention party at Cipriani for which everyone is scrambling to get tickets. He is the uncontested MVP of this year's convention.
He's a team player and this team is trading the World Series for a fourth round draft pick—the hypothetical Hispanic vote.
One rookie is never enough to win a pennant. Once upon a time, the Republicans knew that.
My last Republican convention was San Diego in 1996. Eight years and two presidential elections have left the Republican Party virtually unrecognizable and sadly unattractive.
In 1996, regardless of what you've heard about the backlash of Prop 187, California voters were energized by a new ballot measure, Prop 209, which effectively abolished affirmative action quotas in the state government. Candidates scrambled to add their name to the long list of endorsements.
I traded favors with several staff employees for the privilege of picking up Ward Connerly at the Fresno airport. Fetching coffee for the leadership team was an honor.
In short, we were proud. We were proud of our leaders, proud of our commitment to conservative principles.
But when I looked at the RNC website for this year's convention and at first glance thought I had stumbled across a recruitment brochure for the University of Political Correctness. Rather than seizing the opportunity to cement their core voter base by announcing and detailing their plan for "A Better America," the Bush Administration has apparently decided to direct their efforts towards building a "new" voter base. With only two months until Election Day, it is certainly an interesting strategy.
In place of ideas for Immigration Reform, Education or perhaps the War in Iraq, the RNC homepage has a link named "Convention reaches out to Hispanics."
The link on the RNC homepage lists the various Hispanics chosen to participate in token convention roles such as giving the Pledge of Allegiance before a Tuesday morning prayer breakfast, in Spanish of course.
In contrast, the 1996 GOP convention took this position on immigration:
"Republicans believe that by eliminating the magnet for illegal immigration, increasing border security, enforcing our immigration laws, and producing counterfeit-proof documents, we will finally put an end to the illegal immigration crisis."
Meanwhile, as the GOP leadership scrambles for the Democrat demagogues' table scraps, once-reliable Republican states are showing signs of vulnerability. Case in point: Arizona.
Only one Democrat in almost fifty years of presidential elections has won Arizona. Bill Clinton narrowly defeated Bob Dole there in 1996, having lost the state in 1992. Note: that was also the first time since FDR that a Democrat president has been elected to a second full term in office.
Yet, significantly, the Kerry/Edwards team has launched a full-court press for the ten electoral votes of this battleground state.
- The Kerry/Edwards team is stumping, for the third time, in Arizona next week.
- Governor Janet Napolitano was given a coveted, prime time speaker slot at the Democratic National Convention.
- Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) was one of three people chosen to lead the Vice Presidential nominations at the DNC, also a coveted position.
These decisions suggest the Democrats smell blood in the water in Arizona. But why?
Well, because it is.
If John Kerry wins Arizona in November, it won't necessarily be because he is the better candidate or because Arizonans have experienced a sudden, and large, shift in voter registration.
It will be the result of sheer political serendipity; the unintentional and ancillary by-product of one critical and controversial ballot measure.
Protect Arizona Now (PAN) is a citizen's activist group that was established for the creation of The Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, also known as Prop 200. PAN, with the help of FAIR, gathered almost 70,000 more signatures than was required for placement on the November ballot.
The elements of Prop 200:
- Requires proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
- Requires proof of identity when voting.
- Requires proof of eligibility for non-federally mandated public benefits
This is elementary immigration reform and should not be a divisive and controversial issue. But that is what it has become.
Specifically, the Arizona Republican Party has been thrown into disarray.
- The thirty state legislators who have endorsed Prop 200 are all Republican, but the Arizona Republican Party has voted to oppose the measure.
- Two incumbent Republican Congressman are facing strong Primary Election challengers this September because of their failure to address the problem of illegal immigration.
Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake have been targeted because of their support of various guest worker and amnesty plans for illegal immigrants. Furthermore, their names are noticeably absent from the Prop 200 endorsement list.
Judging from polls and tell-tale signs of White House concern—Vice President Cheney should not have had to campaign for Kolbe, a ten-term incumbent—the challengers, Randy Graf and Stan Barnes, may even win.
Some experts are already factoring the Prop 200 component into Arizona's general election.
"If the initiative gets on the ballot, it will pass easily unless there is significant organized opposition," said Bruce Merrill, a political science professor [and pollster] at Arizona State University. Still, the initiative has the potential of energizing Hispanic voters much like it happened with Proposition 187 in California, he added"
[Migrant initiative stymies Latinos Yvonne Wingett and Elvia Díaz , The Arizona Republic Jul. 28, 2004]
A large turnout by Hispanic voters is damaging enough for Bush's campaign. The worse problem is that, unlike Pete Wilson and Proposition 187, the Arizona GOP has not seized on this popular grass-roots initiative to mobilize its own base. A split party vote could create the presidential ticket he could not hope to survive: George W. Bush vs. Any Democrat.
In other words, Arizona, immigration reform has become important enough that it may decide two Congressional seats as well as the presidential election.
That's not what the GOP leadership wants to hear. But they better get used to it.
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.