Inside the Capitol

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2-3 The GOP is not dead

20313 GOP

SANTA FE – Is the GOP dead? Not on your life. Yes, demography and Barack Obama's campaign machine are creeping up on Republicans. But before I get into the whys, I want to talk about the whats.
Remember the aftermath of the 2008 elections? The Obama war machine, also called a ground game, swept many candidates into office. Democrat Harry Teague even won New Mexico's 2nd Congressional district. Democrats had control of top state and national offices.
There were so many Republican defeats just four years ago that many in my business were writing the party's epilogue. There was no foreseeable way for Republicans to come back.
Until six months later, that is. In the summer of 2009, Obama started talking about health care and everything turned around. And in the 2010 elections, Democrats lost heavily up and down the ballot.
It was the perfect time for Republicans to win. They got to redesign state and national legislative and congressional districts. It has been said that had Republican legislators not have redesigned congressional districts; Democrats would have taken back control of the U.S. House in 2012.
Meanwhile the GOP had grown an appendage on its right, called a Tea Party. New groups always are welcomed but this group thought Republicans needed as much reforming as Democrats. And thus old Republican warhorses started getting beaten by the right flank.
The effect of the Tea Party has been to draw GOP primary election candidates, many of them incumbents, so far to the right in the primaries that they can't get far enough back towards the middle to win a general election.
As Republicans were being dragged to the right, Hispanic voters began to be a significant part of the electorate. GOP leaders realized they had to begin playing nice with these folks.
The result was a comprehensive immigration proposal crafted by a bipartisan "Gang of 8" and similar to a Bush era proposal which had lost narrowly in 2007.
The main difference is that the emphasis of this proposal is an enforcement section that requires every border governor to certify that the border of that state is secure. Only then can implementation of the rest of the act be undertaken.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is likely to certify his border is safe. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, may go along rather quickly. Texas has been forward looking in its relations with Mexico. It has its own Dream Act and violence in all border cities from Texas to California is down.
That leaves our Gov. Susana Martinez and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Gov. Martinez might be willing to talk. She has recently said she might sign a driver's license compromise similar to Utah's undocumented worker law providing driving privileges but not identification.
Forget about Gov. Brewer. Even with her home state senior Sen. John McCain being the person who put the Gang of 8 together and kept it together, it is likely Gov. Brewer still will see non-existent headless bodies along the border.
Since Obama became president, more has been done for border security than for any other item in the current proposal. But border security remains the most difficult item in the package.
The day after the bipartisan group made its proposal, President Obama spoke on the issue in Las Vegas, NV. He made some points this column has made before. Unless you are American Indian, we all are immigrants and there always is prejudice to overcome every time a new group arrives. All of us were in one of those groups at one time.
The business community could help significantly in passing immigration reform. (Have you ever noticed
when any change is sought in a bill, it is called "reform," regardless of whether it strengthens or weakens a law?)
Business needs immigrant labor because they will do jobs others won't.
This time Hispanic immigrants are expected to get more Republican votes because Republicans need those votes at election time.


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