Once promising, the GOP’s designs on the Golden State governor’s mansion and Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE’s seat are now running aground on a serious, self-imposed obstacle — the months of anti-immigrant rhetoric voiced by their candidates in this immigrant-rich state.
In the governor’s race, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman spent more than $88 million ($71 million of which was her own) to earn her party’s nomination, veering increasingly rightward on immigration to fend off her challengers. “Let me be very clear: I am 100 percent against amnesty, no exceptions,” she said. “[U]ntil we actually do secure the border and actually stop illegal immigration, we can’t talk about any other solutions, and I am 100 percent against amnesty.”
Reinforcing her harsh views on immigration, Whitman’s campaign chairman is former Gov. Pete Wilson — the architect of the hateful and hated anti-immigrant Proposition 187.
On the Senate side, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina was even more strident en route to her party’s nomination. Responding to Democratic attacks on the racist Arizona anti-immigrant law, S.B. 1070, Fiorina said she was “outraged” at what she saw as the vilification of Arizona and a law she strongly supported.
Between 2000 and 2008, Latino turnout in California has grown 85.41 percent, from 1.6 million to just shy of 3 million — over 21 percent of the total, and growing.
Fiorina doesn’t worry too much about them, as she told Fox News: “When I talk with members of the Latino community … what they say to me is, you know what, this is a question of criminals crossing the border.” Of course, it’s not. Not in the real world, anyway. A bipartisan survey for America’s Voice conducted by Lake Research (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) found that while 60 percent of Americans supported Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, with 23 opposing, the numbers were 35-55 percent among Latinos.
That same poll showed that 52 percent of supporters did so because it sent a message to the federal government. Only 28 percent thought it would actually reduce illegal immigration, and a piddling 12 percent believed the nonsensical notion that raiding dishwashers and crop pickers would somehow affect Mexican drug cartels. Not even the law’s supporters are as deluded as Fiorina.
Whitman is a little more worried about Latino voters, telling The New York Times that she would “move away from immigration to broaden her appeal” after the primary, while running ads on Spanish-language TV during World Cup broadcasts, claiming, implausibly, that “She respects our community.” Democratic groups won’t let that happen. The California Nurses Association paid to re-air a Whitman primary ad on Spanish-language radio:
Meg Whitman: Don’t be fooled by misleading ads; my position on immigration is crystal-clear. Illegal immigrants are just that, illegal. I am 100 percent against amnesty for illegal immigrants. Period. As governor, I will crack down on so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco who thumb their nose at our laws. Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education. And I’ll create an economic fence to crack down on employers who break the law by using illegal labor.
Pete Wilson: This is former Gov. Pete Wilson. I know how important it is to stop illegal immigration and I know Meg Whitman. Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration. She’ll fight to secure our border and go after sanctuary cities.
Fiorina has already given up on the Latino vote, and Whitman probably should as well, because the fastest-growing portion of California’s electorate knows exactly what the GOP is selling.
Moulitsas is founder and publisher of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).