Deconstructing the Salazars, Villaraigosa (and Richardson)
The Rocky Mountain News takes a new look at the wins by the Brothers Salazar in Colorado last November and finds something interesting. (Thanks to Coyote Gulch). In a state where only 10 percent of the voters are Hispanics (and less so for John Salazar, winning in a more white-bread 3rd District) they won by not emphasizing race.
"John Salazar succeeded because he connected with the rural values of his district - strong family bonds, deep faith, hard work - and he never turned his back on his farm roots," said Jim Merlino, the congressman's former campaign manager.
"For Ken's campaign, we worked hard to put together an urban-suburban-rural coalition," said Jim Carpenter, Ken Salazar's former campaign manager. "In politics, you go where the numbers are. While Colorado has seen a significant increase in Latino voters, and the Latino vote is a very important piece of the pie, they still represent about 10 percent of the voter population."
As with Villaraigosa, Ken Salazar didn't play up or downplay his Hispanic background, "it was just there," said Rodolfo de la Garza, a political scientist at Columbia University.
This sounds very close to what Gov. Bill Richardson is already trying to do by not casting himself as the Hispanic presidential candidate, rather as a post-Clinton centrist, with his joke, "The truth is, you get used to it with a name like Richardson."
This also parallels the advice that Jorge Ramos gives in the Latino Wave, that is not good enough for politicians to pander to Hispanic voters by acting one way in front of them (the old Mariachi drop by) and another way in front of non-Hispanic voters. The way to win Hispanic votes is to talk about the things that concern them most, not pander:
Kerry and Bush have specifically addressed various issues affecting Hispanic voters: Jobs, education, drop out rate, health insurance, Cuba, immigration… This is a noticeable improvement over four years ago when, rather than speaking about specific issues relevant to Hispanics, the candidates simply brought out the Mariachis and served tacos with sour cream.
Emmett O'Connell | May 30, 2005 | Comment on This Post (2 so far)
Your Personal Note:
I think the RMN article is pretty dumb. Instead of asking how the Salazars won in what the RMN insists on continuing to pretend is a Republican state (and the message, "Don't Act Hispanic" is beyond predictable), the real question is how Bush carried the state when Democrats won at every other level. But that is a scary question for the RMN's editors to ask, so they content themselves with this vapid piece.
Posted by: Colorado Luis | May 30, 2005 3:25:46 PM
From another paper, the Arizona Republic, May 19, 2005 by Richard de Uriarte, editorial writer:
“The election of Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles adds a handsome new face to the national Latino political constellation. But it doesn’t predict political gains in Arizona. Latinos will win in Arizona when they are seen as populist, pro-business, anti-crime and pro-neighborhood people who happen to be Hispanic.”
I don’t know anyone who is pro-crime or anti-neighborhood. And “pro-business populist” is a nice phrase if we can figure out what it means.
Posted by: Leo Brown | May 31, 2005 5:09:10 PM
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(and yes, we know that sometimes they're very, very wrong. Other times, they're right on.)