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Posted January 21, 2004 by publisher in Cuban American Politics

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Jobs, Iraq, immigration - which issue will draw Arizona Hispanics to the polls on Feb. 3?
All of the above.
With the Democratic presidential primary less than two weeks away, political leaders, activists and academics say no single issue is likely to dominate among Hispanics voters.
Rather, Hispanics will pick a candidate based on an array of issues - like every other voter.
“Latino issues are the same issues everyone has,” said Debbie Lopez, director of the Phoenix-based Latino Vote Project, a nonpartisan group aimed at registering voters and increasing participation in the political process.
“It’s crime. It’s health care. Education is very important,” she said. “They are the same for every American.”
Still, there’s no question that a surging Hispanic population is one of the reasons Arizona this year has scaled new heights of political relevance, and not just among Democrats.

President Bush makes his second trip to Phoenix in less than two months today. Vice President Dick Cheney was in Mesa last week.
“Over the next year,” said Adam Segal, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University, “it’s likely you won’t see the president and vice president traveling to states that aren’t critical to their re-election.”
Arizona’s Hispanic population exploded 88 percent in the 1990s. Today, more than 27 percent of Arizona - and more than 31 percent of Pima County - is Hispanic. Add those numbers to the more than 42 percent Hispanic population in New Mexico, which votes the same day as Arizona, and it’s easy to understand why Segal calls Feb. 3 “Hispanic Tuesday.”
It is no coincidence that Bush will travel to New Mexico after he leaves Phoenix.
Democrats hoping to run against Bush in November are also reaching out to Hispanic voters. Wesley Clark, Howard Dean and Joe Lieberman have visited numerous times since the campaign kicked into high gear last summer. Lieberman was in Tucson last week. All the major candidates have an “en espaol” icon on their Web sites. Dennis Kucinich was in Tucson on Friday. On Saturday, he, too, made it to New Mexico.
According to Lopez, about 310,000 Arizona Hispanics are registered to vote. She said her group hopes to register another 88,000 this year, including about 20,000 in the Tucson area. Getting them to vote, she said, will come down to the candidates’ ability to connect with a message that resonates.
Immigration was catapulted to the forefront of the campaign two weeks ago when Bush proposed granting temporary legal status to millions of undocumented workers. It is by design, Segal said, that an initiative about an issue of deep concern to Hispanics was unveiled at the outset of an election year.
“It was the top story in the Spanish-language media for a week, followed by coverage of Bush’s trip to Monterrey” to meet with Latin American leaders, Segal said.
But while immigration is “extremely important” to Hispanics who will cast ballots next month, Lopez said it would be a mistake to consider it paramount. “You can’t have brown skin in this country and not see how huge it is,” she said. “But you can’t live in Arizona and not care about immigration.”
Lopez’s views are echoed by Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez and Tucson City Councilman Jose Ibarra.
For Ibarra, immigration is on the list of issues he considers important - after jobs, crime and health care. “These things have an impact on the city level,” he said. “If a candidate’s plan doesn’t end up building a strong economic foundation, it has ramifications that fall on us.”
Valadez has no doubt that Bush’s immigration plan was motivated by a desire to curry favor with Hispanic voters. But, he said, “if a lot of people didn’t think immigration was important, the president wouldn’t be doing what he’s trying to do.”
Until Tuesday, Valadez was planning to vote for Dick Gephardt on Feb. 3. With the Missouri congressman now out of the race, Valadez said he is taking a second look at the remaining field of candidates.
Rep. Ed Pastor, Gephardt’s most prominent Arizona supporter, is also re-examining the candidates. “He’s still looking,” said Maura Saavedra, spokeswoman for the Hispanic congressman, D-Phoenix.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 05, 2009 by Immigrant Investor Visa

    With Hispanics being the fastest growing minority in the country, this wooing will not be ceasing anytime soon. I do think there is some concern that they are either not registering to vote en masse, or are not actually going out to the polls enough to seriously impact an election as major as that of the Presidency.

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