New challenges and new hopes- immigrant voters hold their own in the elections

From the Restore Fairness blog-

As election fever passes and the nation takes stock, one thing becomes clear – even as Republicans have taken control of the House and Democrats remain strong in the Senate, no one can afford to ignore the immigrant voter.

This election wasn’t about immigration – much of it was dominated by the issue of jobs and the economy. But the issue of immigration, even if it wasn’t front and center, did play a crucial role in winning Senate seats. In California, Meg Whitman’s strong anti-immigrant stance yielded no results, while in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet received support from Latino voters, and in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s positive stance on immigration brought in Latino voters who formed 16% of the entire electorate. In an analysis on the Washington Independent-

“Harry Reid beat out Sharron Angle (R), who ran a campaign that relied heavily on anti-illegal immigration rhetoric, and immigration hawk Tom Tancredo lost the race for Colorado governor… Angle claimed Reid supported a number of policies to help illegal immigrants and seemed to be attempting to capitalize on ethnic fears in ads that showed angry-looking Latino men set to dramatic, if untrue, statements. Tancredo also campaigned largely on immigration policy… Republican Meg Whitman lost to Democrat Jerry Brown. Whitman tried to reach out to Latino voters after her primary, but was hindered by allegations of mistreatment and illegal employment by an undocumented maid who worked for her for almost a decade.”

In a poll conducted by Latino Decisions with the support of National Council of La Raza, SEIU, and America’s Voice, among Latino voters in 8 states, they found that when asked whether the issue of immigration was an important factor in their decision to vote and in their choice of candidate, 60% of Latinos said it was either “the most important” issue or “one of the most important” issues, staying ahead of other important issues like education, taxes, and housing. In Nevada and Arizona, two of the states with the most polarizing immigration debates going on at the moment, sentiments were even stronger. 69% of Latino voters in both Arizona and Nevada said the immigration issue was one of the most important factors in their decision to vote, and who to vote for.  In Arizona, 40% said immigration was the single most important issue in their voting decisions, and 38% in Nevada said the same. Moreover, a high percentage of Latino voters said that their decisions to vote and who to vote for were also motivated by divisive immigration debates, and especially by anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment expressed in the electoral campaigns of candidates like Sharron Angle and Tom Tancredo.

The election results, particularly the Republican take over of the House, will have deep consequences for the future of immigration policy. With Lamar Smith, R-Texas slated to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee overseeing all immigration issues, and Steve King, R-Iowa heading the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, pressure for “increased border security and enforcement actions targeted at undocumented immigrants in the workplace” will increase. Mr. Smith’s track history around the issue of immigration over the past few years does not yield a pretty picture, with him supporting Arizona-Style Immigration Enforcement, measures to ending birthright citizenship and a push for mandatory E-Verify regulations. And judging by last weeks request by seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to “detail exactly how much funding” would be needed to “ensure that enforcement of the law occurs consistently for every illegal alien encountered and apprehended”, a strong pushback from Republicans in both the House and Senate would not be surprising.

But instead of running away from ugly bills, we need to confront them. Because looking at 2012, it is clear that no one, Republicans or Democrats, will be able to win an election without the strength of the immigrant voter, and particularly the Latino voter supporting them. Be it in California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, this election has shown that in races with the Latino and immigrant vote, one can create victory and show strength.

It’s time to listen and stay fixed on the goal with a clear, progressive call for change that respects due process and fairness for all.

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Connecticut, Minnesota and Colorado Results

Connecticut Primary Results
Dannel P. Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, the state’s fourth-largest city, won the Democratic nomination for governor, defeating Ned Lamont, a multimillionaire businessman who gained national prominence four years ago for defeating Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary only to lose in the general election. While Lamont ran in 2006 on an anti-war progressive platform, he tacked to the center in this campaign. With 90 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Malloy had 58 percent and Mr. Lamont 42 percent. Mr. Malloy now faces Thomas Foley, who served as an ambassador to Ireland during the Bush years. Foley defeated Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele for the Republican nomination.

In the race to replace the retiring Christopher Dodd, one of the lions of the Senate, the GOP primary winner was Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, who spent $22 million of her own money to win the primary with 49 percent of the vote. Rob Simmons, a former Congressman who had dropped out of the race only to re-enter it last month, had 28 percent, and Peter Schiff, a financier, had 23 percent. McMahon now faces Richard Blumenthal, the state’s popular five-term attorney general whose luster has been tarnished when he was caught lying about serving in Vietnam. McMahon plans on spending $30 million in the general election.

Voter turnout was 20 percent. More on the races in Connecticut from the Hartford Courant.

Minnesota Primary Results
The main event in the land of ten thousand lakes was the Democratic-Farm Labor gubernatorial primary. The Associate Press has called the race for former US Senator Mark Dayton, an heir to the Dayton Department store fortune. After midnight, with 97 percent of the vote counted, the former US Senator led the Minnesota Speaker of the House Margaret Anderson Kelliher by about 4,500 votes -- enough that no recount would be needed. Matt Entenza, an Oxford-trained lawyer who served six years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, finished a distant third.

Should Mark Dayton indeed be confirmed as the winner, he will go on to face Republican nominee Tom Emmer and the Independence Party's Tom Horner. The GOP has controlled the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul for 24 years. More on the Governor's race from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

There were also competitive primaries for House seats. In the Minnesota Second Congressional District, Shelley Madore defeated Dan Powers and will now face the Republican incumbent John Kline. In the Minnesota Fourth, Fifth and Eight Congressional Districts, incumbent Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Keith Ellison and Congressman James Oberstar coasted to victory over their primary challengers. In the Minnesota Sixth Congressional District, Tarryl Clark won 69 percent of the vote to defeat Maureen Kennedy Reed and will now face Rep. Michelle Bachmann.

There's more...

Colorado Senate Campaign Ads

The Democratic primary in Colorado pits Senator Michael Bennet, who was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the vacancy left by Ken Salazar's departure to become Interior Secretary in the Obama Administration, versus Andrew Romanoff, a member of the Colorado House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008, serving as Speaker from 2005 to 2008. For Bennet, this is his first run for elective office. 

The contest is intriguing on various levels. To begin with, the Obama Administration has backed the incumbent while former President Bill Clinton has endorsed Andrew Romanoff, who is considered the more progressive of the two. The race is also the most competitive of any in the current cycle. Though Senator Bennet held a 17 point lead back in early June, Romanoff has managed to turn the race into a dead heat. While most polls show Bennet with a slight lead, a new poll in the Denver Post conducted by SurveyUSA gives Romanoff a narrow three point edge. The primary is August 10th.

The race has also turned increasingly negative. Romanoff's rise in the polls has come after a sustained month-long ad campaign that's attacked Bennet for taking corporate PAC money. Here are some of the ads being run in the campaign. 

Senator Michael Bennet

This second ad is a response to the Romanoff ads shown below.

Andrew Romanoff

The above spot is entitled A Senator for the Rest of Us while the one below is entitle I Stand With You. Both are 30 second spots.

This third spot is the one that caused the latest ruckus.

Quick Hits

A few items making news and worth a read.

Sharron Angle is dead, the trend is inescapable and the race’s dynamic is fundamentally altered writes Jon Ralston in the Las Vegas Sun.

The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts state Legislature is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

The world's oceans have for too long been a dumping ground and are clearly in trouble. In an effort to make sense of of the dozens of US laws and overlapping agencies governing policy on oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes, John Holden, the White House Science Advisor, announced that it was forming a new National Ocean Council. The new body, which will include 24 officials from various federal agencies, will not have the power to propose new laws or regulations. Rather it will set broad policy goals and try to referee between conflicting commercial and recreational uses of the nation’s aquatic resources. By signing an Executive Order establishing a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes, President Obama strengthens ocean governance and coordination, establishes guiding principles for ocean management, and adopts a flexible framework for effective coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes. More from the New York Times.

In a related story, new research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that climate change is already causing even greater sea level rise along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Java—coastlines inhabited by hundreds of millions of people. The same climate change is also responsible for falling sea levels around the Seychelles and a potential weakening of the monsoons. A podcast from Scientific American.

Staying on global warming related topics, Federal officials noted last week that they fear an outbreak of dengue fever in Florida after a survey of Key West residents found that at least 5% had been infected or exposed to the virus. With the exception of a handful of isolated cases along the Texas-Mexico border, there had previously been no cases in the continental United States since 1946 and no outbreak in Florida since 1934. I have had dengue fever twice, once after a trip to the Chocó rainforest and a second time after a trip to Belize. The incubation period takes two weeks, I'd expect to see increased reports of dengue fever in the press the next few weeks. The virus produces high fever and a sensation that your bones are breaking apart. 

Matt Taibbi writes on the shenanigans surrounding a vote on Senator Bernie Sanders' proposal in the Senate to put a 15 percent cap on credit-card interest. Another Senate Charade highlights how Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall initially voted "no" but change their votes once it became clear the measure was headed for defeat allowing the Senators to claim that they stood for consumer protection.

Vice President Biden sung the praises of Speaker Nancy Pelosi today while at a fundraiser for Bryan Lentz, who is running to replace Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) who is now running for the Senate. Biden called the Speaker from San Francisco the “most powerful person in U.S. politics.” In what's likely to add to the catalogue of the quotable Biden, the Vice President said that “the single most successful, the single most persuasive, the single most strategic leader I have ever worked with is Nancy Pelosi,” before adding that "Nancy, you are the mother of healthcare.” The full story at The Hill.


Passing Public Option Via Reconciliation Gathers Steam

The effort to bring the public option up for a vote continues to gather steam in the wake of the Bennet Letter written by Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado - and orginally co-signed by Senator Kristen Gillibrand of New York, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon - to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to use the reconciliation process. Eighteen Democratic Senators have now signed the letter. Those who have signed on are Senator Barbara Boxer of California, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Senator Roland Burris of Illinois and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

The other development overnight is a bit of a mixed bag. Appearing on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show last night, Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the White House is willing to make a push for the public option if Senate Democrats decide to bring it up for a vote. 

"Certainly. If it's part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely," she told Rachel Maddow.

While welcomed, it is not exactly the strongest display of leadership. This I will if you will is passing the buck to Harry Reid when it should be the President that leads. Still, it perhaps merits taking a wait and see approach. The New York Times reports this morning that the Administration will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week.

Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.

Congressional Democrats, however, have not yet seen the proposal or signed on.

The House and the Senate each adopted a version of sweeping health care legislation late last year. But efforts to combine the measures stalled after a Republican, Scott Brown, won a special Senate election in Massachusetts on Jan. 19, effectively stripping the Democrats of the 60th vote they needed to overcome Republican filibusters.

“It will be a reconciliation bill,” one Democratic aide said. “If Republicans don’t come with any substantial offers, this is what we would do.”

Officials said that the White House would post the president’s plan on the Internet by Monday morning. But even as Mr. Obama tries to unite his party behind a single plan, it is unclear that Democrats can muster the needed votes in the House and the Senate given the tense political climate of a midterm election year.

Monday thus looms large. It may be a make or break day for the Administration and the progressive movement. Should the White House fail to show leadership on this, it may be time to take full stock of Administration that is long on rhetoric but short on delivery.


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