|Conservative Latinos Launch Bus Tour for Carly Fiorina|
By Ashton Ellis
Monday, September 27 2010
What does a bus tour covering 42 cities, 32 counties and 2,500 miles in 10 days get? The leaders of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles (LPCP) hope it – along with $1 million of targeted advertising – provides the margin of victory for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign against Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
The key to LPCP’s “Vota Tus Valores” (Vote Your Values) campaign is convincing a significant number of California’s Latino voters to buck tradition and support a statewide Republican candidate. It won’t be easy.
Latinos have shunned the California GOP ever since a majority of voters approved Proposition 187, a measure prohibiting illegal immigrants and their children from gaining access to certain public services. Even though the 1994 law was never repealed, a federal judge refused to enforce it. To make matters worse, because Republican Governor Pete Wilson championed the cause, Republicans became indelibly linked to a controversial law that never went into effect.
One of the outcomes has been consistent support from California’s Latino community for liberal Democratic candidates perceived to be friendly to immigrants. LPCP’s bus tour is attempting to convince the fastest-growing segment of Californians that when looked at holistically, Latinos are really conservatives at heart.
Of course, there are social issues like abortion and marriage where the heavily pro-family Latino community is squarely in the mainstream of conservatism. But they are also much closer to conservative thinking on free trade and entrepreneurship due to rapid increases in small business ownership. According to LPCP, Latinos have started their own businesses at three times the rate of the national average over the last decade.
In Carly Fiorina, LPCP may have found the candidate best suited to bridge the gap between Latinos and the conservative wing of the Republican Party. A former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Fiorina surprised many observers with tough stances in favor of protecting life at conception, the traditional definition of marriage and a robust defense of the Second Amendment. Though she was fired from HP in a management dispute, Fiorina is sure to be an improvement over Boxer’s kneejerk, anti-free market liberalism.
If a Senator Fiorina enacts better economic policies that result in more jobs for everyone, then Latinos can vote their social as well as their economic values. But the kind of seismic voter realignment LPCP is pushing for still comes with a bit of disjunction.
Because LPCP is a project of American Principles in Action, a political action committee which is itself an arm of conservative luminary Robert George’s American Principles Project (APP), it cannot directly coordinate with Fiorina’s campaign. (Full disclosure: I’ve contributed commentary to APP in the past.) That leads to awkward statements from both groups about appreciating the other’s work before repeating that there is no connection between the two.
But it’s safe to say that no one who sees the “Vota Bus” wheeling through California from September 27 to October 6 will mistake its message: “Vote Your Values. Vote Fiorina.” With stops and rallies planned to speak directly to the state’s Latino population, the coordinators of the bus tour are field testing the persuasiveness of their arguments about Latino-Republican compatibility. By the middle of next week, candidates, strategists and pundits will be able to see just how many Latinos are willing to give conservative Republicans a chance.
Which highlights another, trickier part of LPCP’s campaign. Are conservative Republicans willing to give Latinos a chance? No doubt, some are turned off by LPCP’s Spanish language outreach. Moreover, the reality of illegal immigration makes it difficult for those trying to woo such a large slice of the electorate while supporting the rule of law.
Common sense suggests that a reasonable solution can be found to place a religious, entrepreneurial segment of the population within the broader conservative movement.
LPCP is aiming to find out; one bus-stop at a time.
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