For nearly a year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been desperately trying to devise a way to energize Hispanic voters in his quest to secure a fifth term, and his GOP opponent and a GOP-linked group may have just handed him two.
Democrats and Hispanic groups said Tuesday that they believe Republicans have inadvertently delivered themselves a double whammy that could increase Latino voter turnout in Nevada, where public polls have shown Reid tied for months with his tea party-influenced challenger, Sharron Angle.
Sharron Angle and this [GOP group] have made immigration a central issue for Latino voters in Nevada, said Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of Americas Voice, a Latino activist group. That is bad news for Sharron Angle. I think its a game changer.
Angles campaign has been running an advertisement featuring ominous depictions of Latinos crossing the U.S. border. But she recently told a group of Hispanic high schoolers in Las Vegas that the ad might not include Hispanics after all. To prove her point, she told the Rancho High School Hispanic Union that she could not be sure all of its members are Hispanic. Some of you look a little more Asian to me, she said.
Then a group called Latinos for Reform, which is run by a Republican activist, announced Monday that it is poised to run an ad encouraging Hispanic voters in Nevada to protest Democrats inaction on comprehensive immigration legislation by not voting. Under pressure from Hispanic leaders, Univision TV announced Tuesday that it would not run the ad. Telemundo told the Associated Press that it would not broadcast the TV spot if approached.
Almost every local newscast in both Las Vegas and Reno has prominently followed the two stories in recent days, and Spanish-language outlets have similarly beat the drum, with stories running locally and nationally on Univision and Telemundo, as well as on Hispanic talk radio. Hispanic leaders in Nevada held a news conference Monday evening denouncing the GOP-sponsored ad, which helped to spur news coverage.
But Nevada Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox said that with unemployment among Hispanic Nevadans at more than 20 percent, Hispanics and all Nevadans know that the best way to get Nevada moving again is to fire Harry Reid. ... Its time for a change, and the best person for change is Sharron Angle and her pro-jobs agenda.
But Sharry said he thinks the combination of both controversies is going to mobilize Latino voters in ways that heretofore have proven somewhat challenging for Reid and Democrats in the state.
Reid has tried to galvanize Hispanic activists, first by promising to deal with an immigration overhaul this year. But after South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key Republican negotiator, began to back away from any bipartisan deals this summer, Reid blamed the GOP for preventing him from bringing the issue to the Senate floor.
Right before Congress adjourned for the election, Reid also attempted to tee up a vote on the DREAM Act as part of his planned debate on the Defense authorization bill. Republicans blocked the Senate from moving to the authorization for a variety of reasons, including the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal-immigrant children who join the military or go to college.
Rep. Bill Cassidy has his blood drawn by Alesha Barbour during a free hepatitis screening in the Rayburn House Office Building hosted by the Congressional Viral Hepatitis Caucus to recognize "National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day."
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