Up next: A Latino president?
By Rebecca Kimitch, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/08/2009 06:02:51 AM PST

One year ago, 53 percent of voters in the country went to the polls and elected the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.

Now that that barrier has been broken, the question begs, who will be the nation’s first Latino president? And how soon can the country anticipate another historic swearing in?

“The fact that a person of color has been elected gives other minority groups a reasonable amount of hope that in the not too distant future, somebody who looks like them, sounds like them, might be a successful candidate,” said Jaime Regalado, executive director of Cal State L.A.’s institute of public affairs and an expert in race relations.

Democrats, Independents, supported Obama’s candidacy, then other groups who have been left out historically feel a ray of hope,” he added.

In recent years, names such as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat and an early presidential candidate in 2008, Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and former Clinton Administration HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros were considered potentials. Though not everyone has written them off, many experts are turning to the next generation of politicians for potential candidates to make history.

“Those who we might have thought of as potential candidates – Villaraigosa, Richardson, Cisneros – they all have their crosses to bear, legal and otherwise,” Regalado said.

“We just don’t see the person yet,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean that person won’t pop up. It all depends on what happens in mid-term elections, who wins governorships.”

He points to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a Democrat whom Colorado voters elected as state Attorney General and to the Senate, and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat elected to the Senate in 2006.

“We need individuals who are tested on the campaign trail, demonstrated, crossover candidates who have run statewide or have run in jurisdictions where Latinos are not the majority of the population,” Vargas said.

“You need that kind of stature, you need to be governor, senator, to have the visibility … the national network … the fundraising.”

Vargas, Regalado, and others said that more than likely the first Latino president is someone who is sitting in a city council or state assembly seat somewhere.

“It’s kind of a funny question. Thinking about Barack Obama, if someone had asked me eight years ago if he would be the first black president, I would have said no way. Eight years ago he lost to Bobby Rush for Congress. It just goes to show, predictions are hard to make,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood. “Someone is on a super promising track, and then something happens to derail them. The someone who is relatively unknown suddenly finds a path.”

Possibilities abound. There is Marco Rubio, former Florida House Speaker, who is vying for the Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez earlier this year.

There is Rafael Anchia, a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives that Texas Monthly predicted would be state governor by 2018.

There is Julian Castro, the 35-year-old mayor of San Antonio, who, like Obama, went to Harvard Law School.

“He seems to have an unremitting ambition to make it in politics,” said Jillian Medeiros, assistant professor at the University of New Mexico and an expert in race, ethnicity and Latino politics.

And in California there are a multitude of “bright young people in the state assembly and senate,” Regalado said.

Because of the state’s terms limits, the have limited time to prove themselves. So some of the most ambitious among them are vying for the Assembly speaker post, and that could serve as a launching pad, Regalado said.

“Alex Padilla, Felipe Fuentes, Kevin de Leon – it can be tough to pull them apart. They need something to make them stand apart,” he said.

“Within the next five to 10 years, there is going to be an enormous surge of Latinos that are going to be breaking the ceiling, from both sides of the aisle,” said Luis Alvarado, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Greater Los Angeles.

And as the pool grows, the likelihood increases of a woman being the history-maker, Sanchez said.

“Latinas have been catching up on school boards, city councils, to some extent state assemblies and state senates,” Regalado said.

It may be that by 2016 a viable Latino candidate will have emerged, according to Raphael Sonenshein, a professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton and an expert in race relations.

“That is a lifetime from now,” he said.

But Supervisor Gloria Molina worries the country isn’t ready to elect a Latino president. A successful Latino candidate will have to be twice as qualified as other candidates because of racial biases that still exist, she said.

“Unfortunately when you are the first you have to be the very best … you have to set the standard and the bar is very high,” Molina said.

“A lot will depend on our society’s ability to give them a fair chance. If our society can go beyond seeing us as only a gardener or a maid, or someone who doesn’t have all the attributes of a fine American.”

Sonenshein also sees cultural obstacles.

“Whenever a new group comes for an office of that significance, it excites people and it scares people,” Sonenshein said. “The symbolism of you running gets a lot of people excited in your group … but also people are quick to think you are a radical and only care about your own group.”

Shear numbers

The U.S. Census projects that by 2050 the Latino population in the country will be 102.6 million – 24 percent of the nation’s total population. Some put the projections even higher.

Although the demographics are in their favor, being Latino alone won’t get those votes.

“Keep in mind, Latinos don’t necessarily vote for someone with a Latino surname,” Vargas said.

Vargas cited the recall of Gray Davis, when Latinos lent their support to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over Cruz Bustamante.

And many Latinos chose Hillary Clinton over Bill Richardson early in the primaries before the 2008 election.

But Molina said the eagerness of Latinos to see the historic barrier broken would carry considerable weight among many Latinos.

“To what extent depends on what kind of Latino you are… I think for the majority of us who know what it is like to be set apart, even as a professional, I think there is a tremendous amount of pride to see a Latino candidate. It gives us an affirmation we need,” Molina said.

Sanchez agrees. She said in the same way the Obama inspired a new generation of voters to go to the polls, so too would a Latino candidate among Latinos.

“That political muscle is a big factor in seeing the first Hispanic president in the not too distant future,” she said.

Latino enough?

Just as some have asked whether Obama is black enough, the same questions would likely rise about a Latino presidential candidate.

Sanchez said a successful candidate would likely have to speak Spanish and would win favor if they came from immigrant parents.

“That is a powerful story that resonates with all immigrants… it a story of hope, of hard work. A child of immigrant parents sees the opportunity of the country and appreciates the opportunity of the country in ways native borns don’t always,” Sanchez said. “They see the best of the country… and that is a powerful story.”

But Regalado said to be successful, a candidate couldn’t appear to be an immigrant, but rather somebody who has “sowed his or her root in Americana.”

He or she must have broad appeal among non-Latinos and shouldn’t appear too tied to immigrant rights, Regalado said.

The immigration debate will likely be a key litmus test for any Latino candidate.

Molina said her ideal candidate would be willing to tackle it head on, Molina said, without being confrontational.

“It’s the elephant in the room. Too many people are dismissing it right now, saying, we’ll get to it later,” Molina said.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera Valladares, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) also said a Latino would do well to prioritize Latin American foreign policy.

Because many of the nation’s immigrants come from Latin America, a presidential candidate who understands how the world economy, geopolitics and U.S. policy affects those countries would be embraced by many Latinos, he said.

“We need a president who sees Latin America as a partner, not as a bastard son or an enemy,” he said.

Republican chances

Although Latinos traditionally align with Democrats, could the first Latino president be a Republican?

“Though it may not seem like it, there are changes happening in the Republican party that will allow Latinos to prosper in the party,” Alvarado said without providing specifics, only speaking of party infighting. “It is just a matter of time. Demographics are changing and those demographics cannot be denied representation,” he said.

Alvarado said much is being made in Latino Republican circles about George P. Bush – the son of Jeb Bush and his Mexico-born wife – recently forming a PAC.

He also points to Florida’s Rubio.

“And in Texas there are many well established Republican Latino leaders who have demonstrated capacity,” Alvarado said. “In California we are still developing those leaders.”

“There are opportunities on both sides of the aisle,” Vargas said. “Latino voters have shown they will cross party lines.”

George W. Bush got 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004, Vargas said. But John McCain mustered only 22 percent four years later.

“That is the power of the swing vote. With the Latino vote up for grabs, both parties have to pay attention,” Vargas said. “There will never be another race for president where the candidate won’t have to have a Latino strategy to win.” Source


Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman rallies in Covina

By Rebecca Kimitch, Staff Writer

Posted: 08/19/2009 09:23:32 PM PDT

August 8, 2009

Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor, meets supporters at the Radisson Hotel in Covina on Wednesday. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)

COVINA – Gubernatorial candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman brought her star power to the Radisson Suites Hotel on Wednesday to help raise money for local Republican candidates.

Many attendees hope she will give a needed shot of excitement to the party, which has seen statewide registration numbers drop in recent years.

“The next governor has to be committed to rebuilding this party,” Whitman told the crowd. “I’m the best positioned to rejuvenate the party. (My opponents) will not inspire a new group of people to join this movement.”

The gap between registered Republicans and registered Democrats has grown in Democrats’ favor since Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was first elected in 2003. Then, Democrats held an 8-point lead, making up 43.7 percent of registered voters while Republicans claimed 35.3 percent. Now, that gap has grown to nearly 14 points. Democrats have 44.6 percent of registered voters and Republican registration has fallen to 31.1 percent, according to the latest data.

“We are going to have to turn out Republican voters like never before,” Whitman said.

To win the governor’s office, Republicans need the votes of 90 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Independents and 20 percent of Democrats, Whitman said, and they need to focus on women, Latinos and young people.

Whitman has no political experience. She is credited with growing eBay from a small start-up to a global company with more than 15,000 employees.

She said the online auction site is a “very Republican” concept because it “levels the playing field” for users and allows “inspired individuals” to thrive.

She said 1.3 million people – “quintessential small businesses” – now make most of their living on eBay.

Whitman was born in Long Island, New York, graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics, and earned a MBA from Harvard Business School. She has been married for 29 years to a neurosurgeon and has two sons.

Early in her career, Mitt Romney was her boss. And later, while at eBay, she worked with John McCain on a campaign to keep the Internet sales tax free.

The two GOP presidential candidates inspired the career businesswoman to think about a career in public service, she said. Last year, she worked on both of their campaigns.

Rebecca Wells, treasurer of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Greater Los Angeles, said Whitman’s business experience is what makes her an attractive candidate.

“She knows money. She knows budgets. If we lose the budget fight, then what do we have?” Wells said. “And she wants to keep California as the energy state, not Texas. And she wants to keep California as the dairy state. She has that competitive edge.”

If these are her strengths in the eyes of voters, then Whitman plans to tap into them. The candidate told the crowd she would focus almost exclusively on three things as governor: job creation, fixing the state budget by cutting spending, and improving K-12 education.

California is “bleeding” jobs as companies leave for Arizona, Colorado and Utah, Whitman said, and nobody from the state is calling to stop them.

She pledged to put a digital billboard in front of her governor’s office counting the number of jobs lost to other states.

While some Republicans in the audience privately raised concerns about Whitman’s stances on social issues – she is pro-choice – Whitman said she will win or lose based on budget and job creation issues.

“That is what matters to voters right now,” she said after the event.

Attendees paid $35 to attend the event, sponsored by the San Gabriel Valley Lincoln Clubs, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and the El Monte Republican Women Federated. The funds raised will go toward local efforts to elect Republican candidates.

Whitman can afford to lend a fundraising hand. From January to June she raised $10.8 million, more than twice her closest GOP rival, according to a study released this week by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

During the same period, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner raised $4.5 million and the third Republican candidate, former Rep. Tom Campbell, raised $305,000, according to the study.

And while Poizner spent $1.4 million in that period, Whitman’s spending reached $6.2 million.

Whitman, a billionaire, anticipates the gubernatorial campaign will cost $100 million to $150 million. What she can’t raise, she will spend from her own money, she said.

Poizner turned up the heat this week, asking when he, Whitman and Campbell will debate. Poizner’s campaign criticized Whitman for not responding to an invitation to debate Oct. 28 at the Brandman University Irvine Campus.

Poizner and Campbell have both accepted the invitation. Whitman’s spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said the campaign is checking Whitman’s schedule and will respond.

“There will be plenty of debates,” Pompei said.

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2105


After receiving the following message on Facebook,

“Do you really think Barack Obama is a communist? And if so, why? How? Are you insane? Do you get your information/news from Rush Limbaugh? A woman of color, aligning herself with Rush Limbaugh and Bill o’Reilly….irrational, fallacious , racist idiots? Wow….wow. ” — John Dumb

Suzette Martinez-Woodruff was moved to send the response below which she has shared with me and, with her permission, I would like to share her eloquent words with you all! I hope you will take the time to read her words!

Luis Alvarado, Chairman, RNHA LA

John, John, John,

It deeply saddens me that you assume that a Hispanic woman –or as you put it, “a woman of color”- would not or could not be a Republican. Moreover, it leads be to believe that you have minimal knowledge of what the Republican Party stands for, yet alone what it has accomplished. Your assumption fails to give neither me, nor my party, the respect we deserve at even the simplest level.

First, to answer your question, “do I really believe that President Obama is a communist?” Those words have never crossed my lips. But I will state that I believe, undoubtedly, that he has socialist tendencies. This is evident to me through his agenda, his policies, and his spoken word. It may be hard for you to understand –since you didn’t hear it from Chris Matthews.

Second, “where do I receive my information from?” As many intellects do, I prefer various forms of media, ranging from books, magazines, television, the Internet, and the newspaper. Mind you, I digest all words with a grain of salt in conjunction with strict scrutiny. However, my conviction and political perspectives come from my own contemplations.

Third, I must clearly convey, I DO NOT align my political convictions with entertainers or specific individuals (other than the founding fathers). Rather, I align my political affiliation with the principles and values closest to my thoughts, heritage and heart.

I’m a Republican, because I believe that our most important rights are individual rights.

I believe these rights are given to us, not by our government but, by our creator — at birth.

I believe that all people have equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I believe that all people are born with tabula rasa and have the ability to determine their own future.

I believe it is governments place to respect each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility.

I believe that big government and mob rule are vessels to socialism, communism, tyranny and revolution.

I believe that capitalism, free enterprise, and competition are the roots and history of our nation’s economic prosperity.

I believe that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. But when you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.

I believe that individuals manage their monies better than government manages their monies.

I believe in the American culture and will not apologize for our successes.

I am a believer in family and community values.

I believe that education is the future of our nation and individuals and families should have more educational options.

These are the same principles that gave birth to the Republican Party in the early 1850’s. These are the same principles that led President Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation -ending indentured servitude in America.Republicans do and have always believed that every man and woman is created equal. We and the founding fathers understand that this is not a choice that can be made for us by others.

Jay, I am very disappointed that your prejudice of Republicans and myself, guide you blindly through our ever so fragile political world. I do have a question for you. Do you believe that Bill and Rush are racists or that Republicans are racist?

If so, why? How?

Here are some facts to contemplate:

In 1865, a unanimous Republican congress backed the 13th Amendment making slavery unconstitutional. Among Democrats, 63 percent of senators and 78 percent of House members voted: “No.”

Republicans in Congress passed our nation’s first Civil Rights Act, extending citizenship and equal rights to people of all races, all colors, and all creeds. We extended the concepts of due process of law, and equal protection of the laws, to every state. This little civil rights advance is known as the 14th Amendment. Funny that 94% of Republican senators and 96% of GOP House members approved the 14th Amendment. Every congressional Democrat voted “No.”

1869, the Republicans proposed yet another constitutional amendment, this one specifically guaranteeing blacks the right to vote. Again 98% of Republicans voted for it and 97% of the Democrats voted against it.

In 1872, Pinckney Pinchbeck –a Republican– took office in Louisiana making him the first black governor.

In 1875, in our own state of California, Romualdo Pacheco became union’s first Hispanic governor. And in 1928, Octaviano Larrazolo became the nation’s first Hispanic United States Senator. Want to guess what party they belonged to?

In 1871, a Republican Congress passed the Enforcement Act, giving black voters federal protection.

In 1894, Democratic President Grover Cleveland and a Democratic Congress repealed the GOP’s Enforcement Act, denying black voters federal protection

In 1901, Republican President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House as its first black dinner guest.

Republicans led the fight for women’s voting rights — and the Democrats, as a party, opposed civil rights for women. All of the leading suffragists — including Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton — were Republicans.

The suffragists included two African-American Republican women who were also co-founders of the NAACP: Ida Wells and Mary Terrell. Both Republican.

The first women delegates to a national party convention went to the Republican Convention. Democrats kept women out for years. The goal of the Republican suffragists, including their male Republican elected official friends, was to add an amendment to the Constitution that would give women the right to vote. Sadly, there is not a single California schoolbook in use today that tells students it was a Republican U.S. Senator from California, Aaron Sargent, who authored the women’s suffrage amendment — or that he named it in honor of another great Republican, Susan B. Anthony.

Senator Sargent introduced the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in 1878, but it didn’t become the law of the land until 1920. Why? Because Republicans did not have majorities in both the House and the Senate at the same time, and the Democrats kept voting against it.

In 1937, Republicans opposed Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Supreme Court nominee, U.S. Senator Hugo Black, a Democrat and former Klansman who defended Klansmen against race-murder charges

In1983, President Reagan established Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday, the first such honor for a black American.

President Reagan named Colin Powell America’s first black national-security adviser while GOP President George W. Bush appointed him our first black secretary of state.

President G.W. Bush named Condoleezza Rice America’s first black female NSC chief, then our second (consecutive) black secretary of State.

Jay, it seems to me that the “progressive” Democratic Party has been serving stale food at the American dinner table.

I simply ask that the next time you see an American woman, of Hispanic descent, you think twice before assuming what she does or should believe in.

God Bless,

Suzette Martinez-Woodruff

Vice President SCV Young Republicans

Alternate on the Republican Party 38th Central Committee

Charter Member Republican National Hispanic Assembly

North Los Angeles County