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In Battleground Ohio, Republican Attacks Are Inspiring Immigrants And Latinos To Mobilize

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Ohio may shape up to be THE battleground for the presidential race in 2016, and every single vote will matter.  There is also an important Senate contest, with incumbent Rob Portman (R) challenged by former Governor Ted Strickland (D).  Cleveland was the site of the first official Republican presidential debate this year, and will host the Republican National Convention in 2016.  No Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio.

I am based here, and this year I created a project called Ohio’s Voice with support from the area’s legal, activist, and immigrant community.  We held a watch party for the first official GOP debate at Moncho’s Bar and Grill, and teamed up yesterday with the local Spanish-language radio station LaMega 87.7, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, and #TNTweeters to host our first-ever voter registration drive targeting Latino and immigrant voters.

The event was a resounding success and a perfect springboard for next time.  Over 200 people came in the door and learned about civic participation, voting by mail, and why their vote matters.  We registered 27 voters, but educated many who were already registered.  We met people motivated to turn out “to be counted,” “to decide,” and because of “good-for-nothings” like Donald Trump.

Here’s a quick look at highlights from the event.

In Ohio, 2% of the electorate is Latino and 4% of registered voters have a direct connection to the immigration debate (being immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants).  Latinos are leading the state’s population growth, so their share of the electorate will only expand with every election.  In close races, these voters will make a difference today and in the future, they will play an even bigger role.

Immigration, race, and social issues are dominating discussion in the presidential race already, with the discussion getting quite ugly in some cases.  Even Latinos who are not immigrants–such as Puerto Ricans–find their values under attack.

Politicians attack communities they perceive as weak, when they believe this will mobilize and excite a more “powerful” segment of the electorate.  We can prove them wrong by getting mobilized ourselves.