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Immigration Insider: 5 Weeks to Election… CA, FL, and DREAM Politics Take Center Stage

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Immigration Insider | Election 2010

A vote on the DREAM Act is delayed, but the debate itself could boost Dems’ chances this fall. CA candidates attempt extreme makeovers to woo Latino voters. Rep. Bilbray blasts DREAM supporters as “accomplices to murder.” FOX News is furious… with Stephen Colbert. Marco Rubio speaks Spanish. America’s Voice teams up on Spanish ad blitz to show who’s blocking immigration reform.

Welcome to Immigration Insider | 5 Weeks to Election 2010

California’s GOP Gov. and Sen. candidates attempt extreme makeovers to woo Latino voters: CA is providing the template for flipping from harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric in the GOP primary to a kinder, “Hispanic-friendly” tone in the general election. Like gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman, Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has apparently figured out that, in fact, Latino voters do matter. Fiorina was an anti-reform crusader in the CA Senate primary who proudly supported Arizona’s “Papers, Please” SB 1070. Now, she supports the DREAM Act (but asserts her opposition to “amnesty” — which sounds like a “wink, wink” to the anti-immigration forces that she’s still really one of them). Fiorina has started a “Vota Tus Valores” (Vote Your Values) bus tour aimed at Latino voters.  Unfortunately for Fiorina, most Latino voters don’t value immigrant bashing — in fact, nearly 30% view immigration as their top issue, according to a 9/23/10 Latino Decisions tracking poll. Not to mention, the legacy of Pete Wilson still haunts the California GOP.

Markos Moulitsas has more on California: http://bit.ly/cr6xX8

Latest CA polling shows Latinos wary of Whitman, Fiorina. According to the latest tracking poll of Latino likely voters by Latino Decisions in partnership with the Los Angeles Times and University of Southern California , 44% said Boxer would do a better job with the issue of immigration; only 13% said Fiorina. In addition, 54% of likely voters said Boxer shared their values better; only 19% said Fiorina. Likely voters split 66%/26% for Boxer.  Among likely voters not already supporting Fiorina, only 8% said there was “a fair chance” they might support her; 35% said “no chance at all.” According to the LA Times: “Latino voters, who have helped to propel California’s leftward political swing over recent years, remain reluctant to embrace Republican candidates as the November general election nears.”

More on the power of the Latino vote: http://bit.ly/LatinoVote2010

FL Senate May Hinge on Latinos: Rubio Touts Cuban Biography over Immigration Policy; Crist Says ‘Path to Citizenship’ Could Save Social Security: Latino voters make up 13% of the Florida’s electorate and could prove decisive in the heated three-candidate race to win FL’s open Senate seat.  Republican Marco Rubio is running his first Spanish-language campaign ad, focusing entirely on his background as a Cuban-American and ignoring thorny policy issues like his opposition to the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and flip-flopping on the controversial Arizona immigration law, SB 1070.  Both Rubio’s opponents, Democrat Kendrick Meek and Independent Charlie Crist, have consistently opposed bringing SB1070 to FL and supported comprehensive immigration reform.  Via Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel, this week Crist also linked immigration reform to the solvency of Social Security, noting that “11-14 million people can become productive, participating members of the American economy, paying the payroll taxes, helping Social Security going forward, and making America stronger financially.”

While one poll shows Rubio well ahead with Latino voters, the Latino vote in FL skews Republican due to the traditional dominance of Cuban American voters – a dominance threatened by the growing diversity of the Latino population in Florida. In addition, the sample size is too small to be valid.  Watch to see if Crist and Meek can effectively use the hard-line immigration stances Rubio took during the primary to paint a clear contrast for Latino voters in the general election.

An unprecedented $300,000 Spanish-language ad spend shows political price of blocking reform. Spanish-language ads are being launched in six states and nine major media markets today by SEIU, Mi Familia Vota and America’s Voice. The spots call out Republican obstruction on the DREAM Act and show that there is a price to pay for blocking popular immigration solutions. Ads are running in Phoenix and Tucson, AZ; Denver, CO; Miami and Orlando, FL; Chicago, IL; Las Vegas, NV; and Houston and McAllen, TX—all areas where Latino voters will play a decisive role in contested races this November and in 2012. Listen to the ads: http://bit.ly/SpanishDREAMAds