Latino Leaders Swirl Around Idea of Tequila Party

Delen Goldberg, Las Vegas Sun, November 28, 2010

Latino leaders in Nevada and nationwide are quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group.

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country.

The unlikely model for the movement they would like to launch is the Tea Party–not in substance, of course, but in its grass-roots organizational style. Acknowledging the source of their inspiration, Latino leaders have dubbed the proposed movement the “Tequila Party.”

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Hispanics have proved to be a powerful political force in Nevada and nationally. They were instrumental in electing President Barack Obama and are credited with saving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election this month. In Nevada, Latinos accounted for 15 percent of voters in 2008 and a record 16 percent in this month’s midterm elections.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their robust turnout, many Latinos have become disillusioned with party politics. Their efforts haven’t led to the changes in policy they would like to see.

Hispanic Republicans complain that party officials court their vote but often advocate policies that marginalize the community.

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Latino Democrats, on the other hand, wonder if their support is taken for granted. They express frustration and anger at the lack of movement on immigration and education reform in Washington. They bristle at being underrepresented in the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. Community organizers complain they are recognized only near the end of campaigns, when polls are tight and their votes are needed.

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Politicians affiliated with Tea Party groups won more than 40 congressional seats in the midterm elections. All ran as Republicans. And while headliners such as Angle and Christine O’Donnell lost at the ballot box, their association with the movement and the party placed them on a national stage, where they were able to amass a significant amount of support and in Angle’s case, a stunning amount of money.

Hispanic leaders hope to spur something similar.

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The idea of a “Tequila Party,” which until recently was only quietly debated among Latino leaders, is now making a splash.

First reported Sunday by the Sun, the proposal has gained international attention and has been featured in news publications worldwide.

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Reporters from Fox News, the Mexican broadcasting station TV Azteca and even a Brazilian publication have asked Romero for interviews, he said.

Dozens of news organizations have followed up on the Sun story. {snip}

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Commenters on the stories appear to have mixed feelings about the potential third party.

Some called the idea of a Latino effort “racist.” Others cringed at the name. Many applauded the prospect of a movement to highlight Hispanic concerns.

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