02-19-2017  8:48 am      •     

Richard Ivory

Latino advocacy groups lauded the addition of a growing and more diverse crop of Hispanic officials. But they also said they were waiting to see whether the new lawmakers would address the most pressing issues facing their communities.

Opposition to President Barack Obama's agenda fueled Tuesday's Republican surge, but many also connected Obama's election to the rise of minority Republican candidates. In South Carolina, the first black Republican was elected to Congress from the Deep South since the 1800s, and the nation's first Indian-American woman was elected governor.

``Color is becoming less of an issue,'' said Richard Ivory, a black Republican political consultant and founder of hiphoprepublican.com. ``There was a time when the white electorate saw race first and made judgments based on this alone.''

Overall, with Democratic losses, there was likely to be only a small net gain of Latinos in Congress. Florida's Marco Rubio will join the Senate's lone Hispanic member, New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez.

``One thing we do know is that it was a good year to be a Republican Hispanic candidate,'' said Arturo Vargas, head of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. ``Hispanic Republican candidates rode the Republican title wave. It was coast to coast. The only place they didn't seem to win was the Pacific Ocean,'' he said, referring to California, where Democrats held strong and Republican Abel Maldonado lost his bid for lieutenant governor.

In New Mexico, Susana Martinez was elected as the nation's first female Hispanic governor. Nevada voters elected Brian Sandoval as that state's first Hispanic governor.

On the congressional side, Jamie Herrera will become the first Latino congressman from Washington state, while Raul Labrador will be the first from Idaho. House Democrats were defeated by Latino Republicans such as Francisco Canseco, who beat Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, an 11-year House veteran. Also in Florida, state representative David Rivera beat Democrat Joe Garcia, a former Obama administration energy official, to capture an open House seat -- one of the few nationwide that Democrats had hoped to pick up.

In Alabama, Democrat Terri Sewell became the first black woman elected to Congress from that state. And in Louisiana, Democrat Cedric Richardson unseated first-term Republican congressman Joseph Cao, the only Vietamese-American in Congress, in a Democratic-leaning district.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley was elected governor, becoming the second Indian-American to win a gubernatorial race. She is also that state's first female governor.

African-American Republicans also made significant gains. Fourteen black Republicans were on House ballots nationwide, almost double the number in 2008. Insurance company owner Tim Scott will be the first black Republican to represent South Carolina in the U.S. House since Reconstruction, and in Florida, veteran Allen West ousted a two-term Democrat to a House seat. He will become Florida's first black Republican in Congress since the 1870s.

``It is very heartening for our country to see this kind of diversity moving forward,'' said Hilary Shelton, director to the NAACP's Washington bureau. He noted that a black Republican has not served in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma left office in 2003.

Shelton also said it was noteworthy that both West and Scott were elected in primarily white districts.

The same was true for several of the Latino congressional candidates. In some cases they won despite, not because of, the Hispanic vote.

Two-thirds of Hispanic voters in Nevada opted for Sandoval's opponent, Rory Reid. Hispanic voters there tend to vote Democratic. Sandoval, however, was not helped by reports that, in response to questions about whether his children might be racially profiled by an Arizona-style immigration law, he told Spanish-language media that his children ``didn't look Hispanic.''

Even Marco Rubio, who speaks frequently with pride of his Cuban immigrant parents but also supports the tough Arizona immigration law and a repeal of the new federal health care law, won only a third of Florida's growing, non-Cuban Hispanics.

Like most Americans, Latinos tend to rate the economy, health care and education among their top priorities, but most voted against candidates who supported harsh enforcement-only immigration laws.

Angela Maria Kelley, a vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, called Latino voters ``the firewall that kept the Senate in Democratic hands.''

She and other Latino leaders said Hispanics were key in tight races, particularly in Nevada's Senate race, where Democrat Harry Reid squeaked by Republican tea party favorite Sharron Angle. In a last-minute campaign push to help show that she was tough on immigration, Angle ran ads featuring scary-looking Hispanic gang members.

``Latinos took great offense to that, and they turned out in great numbers,'' Kelley said. An exit poll conducted for the Associated Press in the state showed Hispanic voters breaking heavily in Reid's favor, but by about the same margin as in 2004.

National Council of La Raza Vice President Eric Rodriguez said lawmakers from both major parties would be wise to seek out Latino and other minority voters and address their issues, as well as support more minority candidates.

``If this is an indication of that, then this is a good thing,'' he said.

AP National Writer Jesse Washington reported from Washington, D.C.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all