Immigration Meditation

Posted March 17, 2004 at 6:33pm

The conservative Club for Growth wants Republican candidates to embrace immigrants and immigration as a means of economic development.

“There are firms and industries that need immigrant workers,” Club for Growth President Stephen Moore said at a forum the group sponsored on the political potential of immigration this week. “The Republican Party should say yes to immigration but also yes to assimilation.”

Those on the panel, convened in the Rayburn House Office Building, pointed to commentator Pat Buchanan’s 2000 Reform Party presidential bid in which he received less than 1 percent of the vote as an example of the pitfalls of taking a hard stance against immigration.

Ed Goeas, a pollster for the Tarrance Group and son of immigrants, said, “There are some problems in the communication in the immigration issue. There are many myths surrounding the immigrants of today.”

All the participants agreed that immigrants, including those in the country illegally, have a positive impact on the United States. They cited the 17,000 immigrants serving in the military and the added payroll taxes generating by working non-citizens, two facts they implored Republicans to bring up in this election year.

The panelists also said conservatives should not be uneasy with President Bush’s plan to allow currently employed illegal immigrants guest worker status for three years.

“The problem with the conservative base is it seems to have a problem with the idea that they are here illegally, so maybe the discussion should be about the law being wrong,” Goeas said.

This being an election year and with each political party desperately needing its base supporters to get out and vote, many on the Republican side harbor concerns that Bush’s coattails have been cut short due to his relaxed stance on immigration.

“We just finished a survey that said 91 percent of Republicans are going to vote for Bush this year. So the immigrant issue is not chipping away at his base,” Goeas said.

Staying Positive. The League of Conservation Voters on Wednesday began

airing 60-second radio spots in Indianapolis and Las Vegas, targeting Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), respectively.

But these are not attack ads. Rather, the LCV is urging the Senators to continue their opposition to the energy bill making its way through Congress.

“The ads are a way of encouraging these Senators to stay the course,” said Betsy Loyless, the organization’s top Hill lobbyist.

LCV pollster Stan Greenberg said the group hopes the message gets out to other Members of Congress as well.

“In an environment that’s very negative, it’s a signal across the Hill that there’s support for doing the right thing,” he said.

Making the Grade. Speaking of the League of Conservation Voters, its annual Congressional score card has sparked an unusual war of words between the environmental organization and House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.).

That Pombo would take issue with the LCV’s criteria for grading Members on their environmental votes, or the conclusions the group reaches, is not surprising.

But Pombo, at least in the view of amused LCV officials, unwittingly “flunked” the Republican members of his committee.

Soon after the LCV report came out, Pombo’s committee issued a release blasting the organization, arguing that the LCV is hardly an objective environmental group but rather a partisan organization that has spent $3.3 million in the previous three election cycles to defeat Republican candidates. The release also notes that, “predictably,” the LCV offered up “failing” grades to 27 of the 28 Republicans on Resources, presumably because they scored below 65 (which is generally the norm for passing in high school).

But LCV Senior Vice President for Political Affairs Mark Longabaugh rejected the notion that his organization was actually failing Pombo and his colleagues, because the group releases Members’ scores without, he says, labeling them.

“Amusingly enough, Mr. Pombo’s statement does something even we didn’t do — he flunks 27 Republican members of his own committee for their environmental voting records,” Longabaugh said. “Mr. Pombo claims that LCV gave all but one of the 28 Republicans a ‘failing’ grade. In fact, the LCV National Environmental Scorecard issues scores, not grades. Mr. Pombo is right about one thing — the environmental scores for most of the Republican Members of the House Resources Committee are terrible.”

Pombo hardly entered the battle against the conservation group on his own. Several committee members chipped in with their observations.

“I wish the LCV spent half as much on actually protecting the environment as they do on fundraising and negative advertising,” said Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.).

A Long Way From North Dakota. Mark Pfeile has been named director of communications for this year’s Republican National Convention in New York.

His career began as a stringer for The Associated Press and as manager of KDRQ radio in Wishek, N.D. More recently, he was deputy press secretary for the Republican National Committee and acting communications director and press secretary at the Interior Department.

Fresh Crop. A fixture in California Republican politics is scaling back his responsibilities.

Thomas Fuentes, chairman of the Orange County (Calif.) Republican Party for the past two decades, stepped down this week, though he will remain on the county GOP central committee.

According to the Los Angeles Times, former state Assembly Minority Leader Scott Baugh (R) is likely to be named the new chairman next month.

Orange County has long been a conservative stronghold in a state that has drifted to the left through the years.

“Orange County remains anchor to the right for the California ship of state, no matter how strong the winds blow from the left in places like San Francisco and Hollywood,” Fuentes said.

But Democrats have made major gains in Orange County in the past several years, and some Republicans privately blame Fuentes for being too inflexible a social conservative to fit the party’s needs during the changing times. Fuentes has become estranged from Bush and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), and according to the Times, some Republican business leaders have been urging Fuentes to groom a successor since 1998.

The Homer Team. Undaunted by the entry of Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) into the Centennial State’s open-seat Senate race, another Democratic Senate contender there, educator Michael Miles, has hired a new campaign manager.

Kristin Homer, a branding consultant and project manager, began the gig on Monday. Homer has a Ph.D in linguistics from the University of Colorado.

The “Winners” Won’t Be There. The Media Research Center, a conservative monitor of so-called liberal media bias, will be hosting its annul Dishonor Awards Dinner tonight at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Columnist Cal Thomas will serve as master of ceremonies, and several conservative icons, including Joe Scarborough, Jonah Goldberg, Ann Coulter and Steve Forbes, are scheduled to appear to hand out “awards” or accept them for the “winners.”