Democrats have only themselves to blame if they lose control of the US Senate this fall and watch their other mid-term election prospects wither on the vine for ignoring one key group: Latinos. Overwhelming support among Latinos keeps Harry Reid in good stead as the senator from Nevada, and was a major component of vaulting Barack Obama into the White House.
What did they get for it?
A nice resolution from the Senate calling for immigration reform. It died in the House thanks to the hard work of our own Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, who House Speaker John Boehner does not like one bit. King was able to hold together the Anti-Brown Caucus in the right wing of the House and shout down any attempt to save Republicans from themselves. King sees no good reason to grant voting rights to people who will vote against him.
Democrats have largely given King a pass.
There is no field office of former Obama people trying to register Latinos to vote. We have heard little to nothing out of the Democratic challenger, Jim Mowrer of Boone, about the rights of immigrants in Iowa or whether we even want them here. We hear from Steve King almost every time we turn on the TV.
Bruce Braley managed to insult Chuck Grassley by fearing out loud that a farmer could be elected chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We have heard about how Braley supports veterans (Mowrer, too) and how they believe in education and controlling government waste.
What is either doing to fire up the Latino base to vote this November?
Nothing, from what we can divine.
Leading progressive candidates have not exactly put a pin over Storm Lake on the map. Yet this is where the highest concentration of Latinos in Iowa live. The campaigns insist that they will get here and organize in due time. For the moment, they are raising cash for all those obnoxious, misleading TV ads that have already started in some races. It won’t be TV ads that turn a race in a rural district like the Fourth. It takes boots on the ground year-round, and those boots are all dry.
So Latinos just might not care to show up next November.
That’s what The New York Times suggests in a Monday story by political writer Jackie Calmes entitled, “Hopes frustrated, many Latinos reject the ballot box altogether.”
Calmes focused on Colorado, a purple state like Iowa, were Hispanic voters are disenchanted with Democratic politicians. These voters know the Republicans are actively working against their liberties, but they believe that Democrats are getting rolled in the process. One of the bigshots at La Raza, a prominent Latino advocacy organization, calls Obama “the deporter in chief.” Yes, President Obama has deported more Latinos than the two Bush presidencies combined.
“There’s a sense from some people that there’s nowhere to turn, and I’m afraid they’re just going to be frozen in frustration,” said Lisa Duran, executive director of an advocacy group called Rights for All People.
Latinos might think Democrats had something to offer if they could knock off Steve King. DC Democrats have proven they don’t have the will to do it.
If they did, we would see voter registration efforts now, not three months before the election. Latino speakers would be coming in every week to Storm Lake, Denison, Estherville, Fort Dodge, Sioux City and Mason City (where there is a long and proud Latino tradition). Nothing of the sort has happened or will happen. You will not see the charismatic mayor of San Antonio in Storm Lake, nor former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Sioux City.
The Democrats say they are not here because they are still raising funds. That should have been done by now. How could they not raise funds against a candidate who should have a target on his back for the damage done to Latino prospects?
House progressives have not been smart enough to bury King on policy, procedure or politics. Yet they are the ones who essentially control campaign financing for someone in Western Iowa.
Democrats will lose because they were lazy and took the Latino vote for granted. They promised but could not deliver because of one small man from Sac County. Until Steve King is shoved aside, Latinos have no good reason to vote for the party that would suppose to speak for them. The vote must be earned.