Cuban Americans

Hispanics could pick Arizona’s presidential nominee

Posted January 26, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Americans.

C.T. REVERE | Tucson Citizen

George Garcia has yet to decide which Democrat will get his vote in Arizona’s presidential preference election, but he knows what he wants the next president to do.

“There needs to be more done for Hispanics in terms of better opportunities,” said Garcia, a 55-year-old small-business owner. “Not everybody gets the same opportunities, and it’s opportunity that gives you the chance to succeed.”

Garcia, who said he’s likely to vote for retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark or former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, believes Washington should provide tax breaks for Hispanics to help pave the way for college and to start businesses.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough there,” he said.

I don’t think we’ve done enough there,” he said.

Herlinda Garcia Padilla, 67, plans to vote for Howard Dean because she believes he has the interests of Hispanics in his plans.

“I like that he wants to work for a better future for all of us because finding work is not easy,” said the retired Mexico City surgeon. “I’m looking forward to change in our country.”

One of the keys to winning in Arizona is harnessing the tremendous potential of the state’s Hispanic voters, said Paul Eckerstrom, chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party.

“The Hispanic vote could be important if they show up,” Eckerstrom said. “It’s harder to get the Hispanic vote to turn out, but if you do the job you can reap huge benefits because it’s a huge population and it can make the difference in a low-turnout election like a presidential primary.”

Dean and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman appear to have done the most work to try and attract the registered Democrats among the state’s 1.3 million Hispanics, Eckerstrom said.

“The Dean people are much more organized in terms of walking and knocking on doors and this group of voters needs extra work like that,” he said.

“And it helps him that Congressman (Raśl) Grijalva is working on his campaign. In Pima County, that gets a lot of votes.”

Lieberman made early overtures to Arizona’s Hispanic voters when he was the first Democratic presidential hopeful to visit Nogales, where he toured the port of entry and discussed immigration reform.

That particular issue resonates within the local Hispanic community, said Lee Malaby, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s chairman for government affairs.

“The biggest issue right now is the immigration issue,” Malaby said, noting that some Democrats have intimated they would support President Bush if he can solve the immigration problem.

“But it’s a double-edged sword because there are Hispanic groups that aren’t going to be happy with whatever is being proposed and that creates a negative reaction. When people get angry about something that affects them, that’s when they want to go out and vote.”

Malaby said professional development for Hispanics is a vital issue candidates should adopt.

“Everyone should have an opportunity to get a good-paying job and have a chance to improve their quality of life,” he said. “Education is particularly important here in Arizona because we rank so low in everything.”

Lorraine Lee, vice president of Chicanos por la Causa, said these issues are important to everyone.

“In a broad sense, our issues are the same issues as anyone else: the economy, housing, the war,” she said. “Immigration is of particular importance to us, but it’s an issue that’s important to everyone. We all want to live the American dream and we all want to elect the best person to help get us there.”

While some candidates already have made overtures to Arizona’s Hispanic voters, the opportunity is still there for whoever is willing to spend the cash, Eckerstrom said.

“The only way they could probably do it is with a good media blitz targeting the Hispanic community,” he said. “It’s too late to turn out good field work.”

Member Comments

On July 05, 2006, Bow hunter wrote:

Malaby, You are so full of sheeit, send the mo foes back to their country. all they do here is increase the crime rate!!

On April 28, 2009, Lee A Malaby wrote:

“They would identify the people that are here illegally by the thousands and send them back, kids and parents,” he said.