An in-depth discussion with Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox (Democrat) and political analyst Alberto Gutier (Republican) about the Latino voter split in California’s recall race and its impact on both parties — and the outreach efforts in the upcoming Presidential election. We will also explore whether the Republican and Democratic parties are using “Pinata Politics” or a more genuine effort in addressing important Latino issues.
>> Feliciano Vera: Good evening, I'm Feliciano Vera in for Jose Cardenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." Tonight, the search for the Latino voter. Is it piñata politics or genuine outreach? We'll talk about that and the impact of the Hispanic vote in the aftermath of the California recall election.
>> Feliciano: Critics say it's not needed. Backers say it's needed to protect Arizona against undocumented workers. We'll tell you more about the "Protect Arizona Now" initiative. Also, we'll talk to the president of the Hispanic Women's Corporation about next week's 18th Annual Hispanic Women's Conference.
>> Feliciano: Before we get to tonight's topics, here's a look at the week's news. The Pew Hispanic Center released a report this week about the growth of the Hispanic population. Some of the report's highlights are, by the year 2020, the Latino population will grow to 60 million from the current 35 million in the U.S., boosting the number of Latinos in the labor market. Half of that growth will come from second generation Hispanics. The report also says that their earnings and education will surpass those of those their parents, and their political views are likely to change, becoming more liberal as they become assimilated into mainstream American culture.
>> Feliciano: In other headlines, three Latinos from the Valley make the Hispanic Business Magazine's 100 most influential Hispanics list. Arturo Moreno made the list as the first Hispanic majority owner of a professional sports arena as the owner of the Anaheim Angeles. Phoenix community activist Socorro-Hernandez Bernasconi made the list after winning the 2002 Martin Luther King, Jr. award for her work with Hispanic youth and for founding a trilingual school. And Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox also made the list for her efforts in attracting more Hispanics to the world of politics.
>> Feliciano: Latino voters were almost split down the middle in last week's California recall election, sending a message that the nation's largest minority group is not homogenous but very diverse. About 46% of Hispanic voters supported Governor Gray Davis' recall, while 54% opposed it. Joining us to talk about the implications of that election and the Latino voter is political analyst Alberto Gutier and Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Alberto, Mary Rose, Welcome.
>> Mary Rose Wilcox: Thank you.
>> Feliciano: Over the summer, national council -- in a major speech before the conference described the current state of political outreach to the Latino electorate as "piñata politics" he felt that it was mainly a song and dance show. Is there any truth to that? What are the parties doing in terms of outreach?
>> Mary Rose: Well, we have an immense outreach in the Democratic party but we don't have to outreach that much because we belong to the party. The majority of Hispanics in the United States are Democrats. It hasn't changed. A lot of people say that the Republican party is attracting Hispanics, and they may think they are by talking about values that they think are only Hispanic, but the fact of the matter is, when you have a sitting president who is Republican and 475,000 Hispanics are unemployed since that president took office, that is not attracting Hispanics to your party. Democrats are reaching out. We're reaching out by people like myself, Hispanic elected officials who are bringing home people to the party, who are bringing new voters in. Latinos who are new citizens, Latinos who are foreign born, are registering, and they are registering Democrat. There is a growing number changing, but that growing number is changing Independent. It's not changing Republican. So, I think in a sense, the Republicans are the piñata politics. They are appealing to us. It's nice to say "como esta usted," but it's not very nice to not vote for the Save a Child, to have congress vote it in, a Republican congress, and have a Republican president say, no, we're not going to fund it. I just look at my backgournd. I look at my experience. I look at what's going on in my community, and we're still heavily Democrat.
>> Feliciano: Alberto, 30% of the electorate in last week's election votes for Arnold Schwarzenegger over Cruz Bustamante. What does that mean for Arizona and for the nation in terms of the Latino electorate, particularly given that Arizona is shaping up to be a battleground state in the presidential election 2004?
>> Alberto Gutier: We know that the Latino population looks at candidates in different ways, and looks at what they can offer for the future. In California, tax, tax and more taxes. We also know that there is a lot of Hispanic businesses in California, like there are in Arizona. There is over 2 million Hispanic businesses in this country and they create 70% of the jobs that are created by the small business. That's how the progression has to go. The Republican party has offered over the years, a lot of programs for outreach, but I think this president, when he was Governor of Texas, only extended a hand by doing things that got him over 50% of the vote when he ran for Governor last time. When he ran for president he attracted a huge amount of Hispanics because of a message that he put out among our people.
>> Feliciano: Does the California recall election have a positive effect on the Bush campaign or a negative effect?
>> Mary Rose: I think it has a negative in a sense, that people are saying we don't want incumbent, we want change. In that sense, in the 2004, they want change. They want a Democrat back in, they want the economy back. They want the deficit taken away. They want more than just 40% of working Hispanics to have insurance. So I think it's a negative, but who knows what happens in California. Who knows what's happening? I can't, you know, nobody could make heads nor tails. I'm the chairwoman and I called -- Vargas, who is head of -- very educated, very up, and he says, we couldn't make heads or tails of it. So it's very hard to call. Hopefully, the rest of the country settles down, but I really feel that there was probably just that sweeping need for change and Latinos got caught up in it. He's an action figure, you know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, everybody looks at him and the name identification, but I don't think anybody really knows. They'll probably do studies for years on it.
>> Alberto: You have to look at what Governor Davis did. He tripled the registration for vehicles. The taxes got increased tremendously in California, and it got to point in which, Hispanics also pay lots of taxes and one of the things that the Democrats can offer is more taxes and more taxes. While the Republican party and President Bush through the congress basically came out with a tax cut. I'd like to know how many of those Hispanics would like to give back their $400 per child that they received as part of the tax cuts that the president gave. I don't think none of the Hispanic families wants to give those $400 back once they were given the tax cut.
>> Feliciano: Arizona is shaping up to be a target for federal funding on the Democrat side, and on I imagine on the Republican side. What share of that funding is going to go towards -- specifically towards Latino outreach in Arizona?
>> Mary Rose: Well, the Democratic primary elections, it's going to be very exciting, because we are the first state after the first two primaries, you know, the traditional primaries. We're the first state that will really show who is going to make that primary ticket. So we have many, many candidates coming in courting us and the Latino population, we are in Arizona, 1.5 million strong. We're now 25% of the population, and because we're so heavily registered Democrat, they are courting us, and we're not just saying come in and talk to us, we're saying what are you going to give us, and they are having concrete policies. Joe Lieberman, a senator for years, has come up with an immigration policy that is wonderful. Many of it is things that he's been trying to put into law, but if he becomes president, first thing he'll do, open with the doors, talk withVicente Fox, get some kind of order on the border and move this country where it should go with an ebb and flow of the border flow and recognizing an economic gain for Arizona. I think it's wonderful that so many Democrats came in. They are listening. They will be fighting for votes not only here but in New Mexico, who has elections the same day, and they are keying in on Hispanic issues. They are not just talking about it. They are coming up with policies that will be incorporated into presidential policies.
>> Feliciano: Alberto, we've got a couple of key congressional district races coming up, obviously District 1, Congressman Rick Remzi is going to be one of the targets. Democrats have a registration advantage and feel that that district is competitive and should be a Democratic district. Republicans last week unveiled -- the Bush-Cheney team unveiled their campaign staff for next year. Are there hard dollars coming into the state for Latino outreach?
>> Alberto: There is going to be dollars coming out of the Bush-Cheney campaign, more than anything else to make sure the outreach goes and isn't only to reach the Latino vote, it will reach the black vote because Republican parties, when it comes to certain values, when it comes to taxes, which is a big deal, and it comes to education. We know exactly what Latino families want in a presidential campaign. We saw in the debate last week that all of these nine candidates attack each other. Very little was discussed on immigration which is critical to the Hispanic community. Republicans like John McCain and Jim Kolbe and Jake Flake introduced guest worker legislation. I haven't seen from the other side a bill that will address guest worker programs or something similar to solve the immigration problem.
>> Feliciano: You bring up an interesting point. You know, here in Arizona, our Republican members are leading the charge for the guest worker program, leading some to think that Republicans in Arizona are, in fact, engaging in some more aggressive outreach to the Latino population. Yet in last week's election, Arnold Schwarzenegger wins the election based in part on a pledge to repeal recently enacted legislation in California that grants undocumented workers in California a driver's license. I mean, is this a mixed message that's getting sent out to Latinos? What's the story?
>> Alberto: Well, we know that last year, the same Governor, Gray Davis, would not sign the legislation, and all of a sudden for political purposes, he signs it. Latinos are pretty smart people. We can see between the lines and what's political purposes for him to maintain power in California. So the driver's license resonates. If you look in Arizona, we don't know where it's going to go, but I can assure you it's a major issue. More important is immigration reform. We have to have immigration reform at least those Republican members of congress will put something on the table that will be discussed late this year and probably marked up for next year.
>> Mary Rose: Feliciano, you talk about the Republicans here in our own state, in the senate and in the legislature, you have Republicans who will not vote in driver's license. Uninsured motorists are just abounding out there. People get hit by a car that's driven by an undocumented worker who is working and adding to our society, paying taxes, sending their kids to school, and Republicans won't let them have a driver's license, so everybody's insurance goes up. I just really think that that is an issue and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the backs of Hispanics and particularly undocumenteds made that point, we will be punitive and a lot of people supported that.
>> Feliciano: One of the big questions that seems to come up perennially among partisans, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side of the aisle is a question of values. Are Latinos more inclined to be Democratic and espouse Democratic values or are they more inclined to espouse Republican values?
>> Alberto: One of the reasons that Latinos in Arizona have become Democrats is because their parents and grandparents were Democrats. But we -- we're seeing a new era, and a new group of people, very well educated, a lot of families and things who are looking at the Republican side because of what I mentioned before. We want less government, less taxes, less intrusion into our lives, and we want to grow so the Latino community can grow in this state and become successful as they have been. Businesses will prosper on the Republican registration.
>> Mary Rose: I just don't buy that. We still have the majority of Hispanics, more than two-thirds are Democrats and they are Democrats because they are working people, and they value the work ethic. You know, we are the party of the working people. You know, we're not raising the deficit so large that taxes will have to be raised to pay off a deficit. Our president, President Clinton, basically got rid of that deficit. We were deficit free. Our economy was great. You put a Republican in, and the thing that Gephardt said, if you want to live like a Republican, vote for a Democrat. So I just don't buy it. I know in my district, it's predominantly Democrat, it's predominantly Hispanic, and those are two things that are synonymous. The Republican party tries to tell you, we're family values, you are family values, but you won't pay for no child left behind. What does that tell you? Children, are the most valued thing in the Hispanic society and the Bush Administration won't pay for a program. Even his colleagues in the senate, the house and congress voted it in, and he won't fund it. What does that tell you?
>> Feliciano: Mary Rose, Alberto, thank you for joining us tonight.
>> Mary Rose: Thank you Feliciano.
>> Feliciano: Coming to a ballot near you, the "Protect Arizona Now" initiative. With a strong amount of support, the initiative will more than likely make it to the ballot. It will require proof of citizenship to register to vote, and will prohibit undocumented workers from receiving state benefits. Here's more about the initiative.
>> Rusty Childress: It's very difficult to flourish economically in an area that's populated with illegal aliens.
>> Reporter: Rusty Childress, owner of Childress Auto in Phoenix, and Kathy McKee are behind the initiative behind "Protect Arizona Now." The measure, if it becomes law, would require Arizonans to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote and also require those who use state-funded services from libraries to universities to provide proof of legal residency.
>> Rusty: I was just a citizen that was frustrated with the system and lack of desire on politicians action plan to do anything about this problem, as far as I could see.
>> Reporter: The problem, Childress and McKee claim, is undocumented immigrants who commit voter fraud and use state-funded services, and politicians who have allowed this alleged abuse to happen.
>> Kathy McKee: I have never in my life seen in America a time when our government officials, state, local and federal, not only blink at the law or ignore the law, but openly violate the law.
>> Reporter: A similar measure banning illegal immigrants from state-funded education passed in California in the mid-1990s, but the courts ruled that Proposition 187 was unconstitutional. Backers of the Arizona initiative have removed the provision regarding K-12 education and say that their legislation will pass the test of constitutionality.
>> Kathy: I looked at the original 187 and picked out what I thought might work from that and picked up stuff that the legislature had already introduced so I knew that the legislative counsel looked at that. We had private attorneys look at it and make it legally perfect.
>> Daniel Ortega: They say that the experience in California is going to add to their being able to implement this. I beg to differ.
>> Reporter: Daniel Ortega is the chairman of the civil rights committee of the Phoenix-based Hispanic Bar Association.
>> Daniel: It has the same basic intent as it did in California, and I don't believe that this law, if passed, will be enforceable, much like the California law in comparison. It is my opinion, generally, that the proof of citizenship for voting is going to be struck down by the Department of Justice. It clearly violates the Voting Rights Act in that it will lead yet to another hurdle or another obstacle for people of color to vote in the State of Arizona, and particularly the Hispanic community.
>> Rusty: Why should we have to do the meeting in English and Spanish and take up all of our time, you know?
>> Reporter: Childress and McKee, who also heads the Arizona Chapter of Citizens Against Illegal Immigration, don't hide the fact that the initiative is one part of a broader campaign against undocumented migration. Aside from their contention that immigrants receive more than they give to the U.S. economy, their web site claims that the initiative is intended to prevent the destruction of our culture.
>> Kathy: What we mean by "culture" is number one, the language, and we're having to pay $80,000 in Phoenix to have the water bills printed bilingually, and I don't know how much the election office spends to print voter registration cards and ballots in Spanish also, which just makes me crazy. You are supposed to be a citizen to vote. It's still the law that you be fluent enough to pass the citizenship test. This is ridiculous to spend this money to make this a bilingual society. Part of our culture is dress and diet, but "diet" means different things to different people, I like grits and collard greens, but I think that whatever is our culture, and I think that is debatable, what is the very essence of our culture. We should be allowed to keep it without having to finance second languages and other cultural influences from other countries.
>> Rusty: Everyone is looking for the American dream, and we need to be careful that we don't become the third world country that a lot of these illegal aliens are running from.
>> Daniel: They are extremists. I don't believe they represent the majority of the people of the State of Arizona. I believe that the majority of the people of the State of Arizona, if they look deeply into this mess, and if they study it and don't respond to it emotionally, and don't respond to it on the basis of half truth or outright lies.
>> Kathy: What is racist about the word "everybody" or what is racist about the word "all"? What is extremist about the vast majority of the people in this country wanting the laws to be enforced?
>> Reporter: When asked for evidence to support their claim that undocumented people are abusing the system, Childress and McKee turned to their opponents.
>> Rusty: I think part of the proof is the defensiveness on the part of some people looking at this initiative. This is -- again, this is something that affects everyone equally, and the laws are already on the books.
>> Kathy: These naysayers who have their heads I don't know where that want to say it's not a problem, then why have are they so worried? If it's not a problem they wouldn't be hysterical.
>> Reporter: But it's not just minority and immigrants rights groups who say the Protect Arizona Now is a bad idea, the Arizona Congressional delegation is against it.
>> Kathy: What I had to laugh about is they are saying that these initiatives aren't effective. Who in that congressional delegation has a clue as to what is effective to illigal immigration? Under their watch it has quintupled.
>> Rusty: My mission was to spur a debate. I declare a victory on that so far because people are able to learn more about the situation, how it affects them, what the impacts are fiscally, and in the long run, I think that the state is going to be better off for, you know, looking at this problem.
>> Daniel: They don't like the fact that America as they see it, a monolingual America, a majority Anglo America is before their eyes, okay, turning into something more diverse, and something more than an Anglo America that's in the majority. The bottom line is this. Get used to it.
>> Reporter: To get the measure on the ballot, supporters must gather 122,000 signatures by next summer, and they say that won't be a problem.
>> Feliciano: They are intelligent, influential and entrepreneurial. They are Latinas. Joining us tonight to discuss issues that Hispanic women are overcoming and to talk about the upcoming Hispanic women's conference is Linda Mazon-Gutierrez, president and one of the founders of the Hispanic Women's Corporation. Linda, welcome.
>> Linda Mazon-Gutierrez: Thank you, thank you Feliciano. I'm happy to be here.
>> Feliciano: 18 years. It's hard to believe that the Hispanic Women's Conference has been going on for that long. How has its mission changed over that time period from its inception to where it is now?
>> Linda: Well, quite frankly, the mission hasn't changed at all. The mission has been twofold. From the very, very beginning, it started out when someone like Nancy Jordan who is actually here at Arizona State University as assistant vice president gathered a group of women and basically said, hey, now is the time to be at the table playing with the big boys. But out of that grew the issue that we have to incorporate the issues of excellence through scholarship and that's for Latina youth going into universities and colleges, but secondly and also importantly is empowerment through Latina leadership.
>> Feliciano: So, what can women get out of the conference if they are planning on attending or if they would like to attend?
>> Linda: Well, we focus on several different areas; one, business entrepreneurial opportunities for the women that's thinking of getting in or perhaps how to excel in the business world. Then we have the areas of health, education, which are very important. Latinas are more increasingly aware of the issues of cervical and breast cancer awareness, hormone replacement therapy, those kind of issues that are out in the media all along, but because now we are the largest in-segment population, we have to be very well attuned to these issues, dietary issues affecting diabetes and so forth.
>> Feliciano: What are some of the major issues facing Latinas in 2003 as opposed to 18 years ago when the conference got its start?
>> Linda: Well, I don't know that it's changed all that much, but one of the biggest issues that I'm seeing now is the issue of empowerment through pay equity. Pay equity is a very major thing. When you consider that 82% of Latinas nationally earn less than $25,000 a year, at first it may seem discouraging. That's why that particular goal has to go in tandem with excellence through scholarship. What we're seeing right now is. Oftentimes Anglo women speak about the glass ceiling, but the frame of reference for Latina women is very different. I would refer to it more as the adobe ceiling.
>> Feliciano: So does the inequity in pay have anything to do with the fact that Latinas form one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial classes?
>> Linda: It has a lot to do with it because, quite frankly, if you don't have the role model, the mentors, the strong assistance that you do from the community or even your political elected leaders to basically draw a path to you towards excellence and toward achievement, we're going to be the biggest obstacle course runners that we've ever seen and we are doing that through small business ownership.
>> Feliciano: So speaking of political leadership, we just had Supervisor Wilcox in. What is the status of the Latina politician today, particularly in Arizona, but not only in Arizona, but nationally?
>> Linda: Well, let me just focus on nationally for a moment. Nationally, I think it's very exciting, absolutely exciting, because 10 years ago we had maybe one, maybe two Latinas who served as members of congress. We now have seven members of Congress who are Latinas. One is Republican. The other six are Democrats, and they are all equally wonderful. I totally expect one of these women to go up to the ranks of the U.S. Senate shortly.
>> Feliciano: Looking ahead at the next generation of leaders, what is the Hispanic Women's Conference and corporation doing to cultivate leadership among young Latinas?
>> Linda: Well, we're very excited about that, because as we grow older, of course, we have to practice what we preach, and certainly we're doing that with our young professional women. We're having them take on the roles of chairs to learn how to put this conference together, and it's no small task to quite frankly throw a two-day conference for over 2000 Latinas who come to this conference as well as corporate and governmental leaders and those persons who come to the - uh, from the nonprofit sectors to partake in this conference nationally. So it's learning how to dot the I's and cross the T's and making sure that everything is in perfect sync.
>> Feliciano: Just a couple of last minute details. The conference runs next week, Thursday through Friday. If someone wants to attend, how do they go about that? Is there a web site?
>> Linda: Yes, there is a web site and very clearly it is www.hispanicwomen.org.
>> Feliciano: Great, Linda, thank you for joining us tonight.
>> Linda: Thank you, Feliciano.
>> Feliciano: Join us next week for another edition of "Horizonte," as we bring you more in-depth coverage of the latest Latino issues. For Jose Cardenas, I'm Jose Feliciano. Thank you, and good night.
In this segment:
Alberto Gutier: Political analyst;
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