The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls (202) 494-8555

California Republican: Immigration Is 'Killing the Republican Party'

Primary Battle Drives GOP Candidates to the Right, Drives Latino Voters Away


As Republicans
continue to embrace anti-immigrant
like the new Arizona law, block attempts
to move forward on a comprehensive immigration reform overhaul, and
wage primary campaigns
over who can sound tougher on the issue of illegal immigration, the
state of California offers a fresh reminder of the political perils of
such an approach.

In a brilliant piece
in Politico today, Jonathan Martin writes that
the California Republican gubernatorial primary's focus on
anti-immigration measures may be, "the political equivalent of biting
into forbidden fruit - tantalizing at the moment but potentially fatal
in a general-election matchup with Jerry Brown."

Allan Hoffenblum, a
Republican strategist in Los Angeles, says of
immigration, "This issue is killing the Republican Party." In response
to the back and forth battle between Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, he
added, "This is bringing back all the fears that the Republican Party
is a white man's party," Hoffenblum said of the primary's back and forth
on immigration. "It's depressing." Fellow California Republican
consultant Adam Mendelsohn says, "It's
why we've taken a bloodbath in the last 10 years."

Martin's story also
notes that the California Republican Party is still reeling from its
past demagoguery on immigration issues - specifically, the 1994 passage
of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which helped cement Latino voters
as a Democratic bloc in California and turned a once-purple state
blue. NBC's political team recently noted that
in "presidential races from 1952 to 1988, Dems won California just once.
After Wilson's Prop. 187, Republicans haven't come close to winning
the nation's biggest state. The next California could be Texas, and the
GOP can't afford to have that big state become competitive."

In the piece Martin
notes that Whitman's opponent Poizner "seems to relish having drawn
Whitman out on immigration." He then quotes Poizner, who revealingly
says, "She was hoping all along that she could have a Republican primary
that would allow her to be this post-partisan, Schwarzenegger-like
person who could start to focus on positioning herself for the general
election," he said in an interview. "Well that hasn't worked out for
her, because the Republican base doesn't want that kind of person."

Of course,
Republicans across the country do not seem to be heeding the lessons of
California. Whether it's John McCain's primary-driven
about-face on immigration
and call to "complete the danged
fence" or Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul's advocacy to
change the 14th Amendment to remove its birthright
citizenship component for the U.S. born children of undocumented
immigrants, the anti-immigrant faction of the Party is winning the day.

According to Frank
Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, "How does the GOP ever
think they can win back California, hold Texas and Florida, or have a
chance to re-take the White House if their candidates continue to rip
pages from the Tom Tancredo blueprint for political irrelevancy? Though
the lessons from California should serve as a giant stop sign when it
comes to anti-immigrant politics, the national Republican Party seems
content to ignore the traffic signal and barrel straight through the

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.