Katie Brandenburg, San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2010
Latino voters could play a key role in deciding the outcome of key 2010 political races across the country, including the California Senate and gubernatorial contests, a new report released Monday by liberal groups concluded.
The report from America’s Voice, a group that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, found that the economy remains the top issue of concern to Hispanics. But it concluded that candidates’ positions on immigration reform could make a big difference in hotly contested elections.
Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, called immigration reform a “litmus test” for many in the Latino community in deciding how to vote.
The report cited a poll concluding that 87 percent of Latino voters said they wouldn’t consider voting for a candidate who was in favor of forcing most undocumented workers to leave the country.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is running for reelection in the Senate against three Republican challengers. The gubernatorial race is wide open because current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is term-limited.
California is just one of the states where Latinos could sway results. Among the others: Florida, which has open-seat elections for Senate and governor; Nevada, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in deep political trouble; Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry faces a contested GOP primary and a tough challenge from former Houston Mayor Bill White in the general election; New York and Colorado, where appointed Democrats are trying to win voters’ approval to fill the remainder of their terms; and Illinois, where Republican Mark Kirk is leading in the race to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat.
Latino voters make up 21.1 percent of California voters.