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Breakout Republicans

"Breakout Republicans" Continued...

Issue: "Looking for votes," March 11, 2006

Mr. Carrillo notes, though, that "inertia" can get in the way: "My parents and grandparents were Democrats, and that's how we as a people have always voted," even though the Democrats now stand for social principles most Hispanics oppose. How to break through? "The GOP needs to look for, hire, train, and retain more highly qualified Latino candidates."

One such candidate is Mr. Castano, whose mother came to the United States as a poor Argentine who spoke broken English. Since he understands "what it's like to be considered a second-class citizen," what he sees as Democrats' treatment of Hispanics particularly frustrates him: "They take us for granted." He says the Democratic message is, "You poor, dumb Hispanics. Here's a handout, so give us your loyalty and your vote in exchange." He says that Hispanics don't see themselves as "victims" and don't respond well to being classified that way.

Strong Catholic and Pentecostal conservatism forms the bedrock of most Hispanic households. That the war in Iraq and gay marriage could have actually helped reel in some Hispanic support for the GOP in 2004 flummoxes Democratic cynics. Ditto for school choice on the local level. Mr. Castano says Democrats have yet to update their "victim message" to Hispanics and are now coddling a group way too big for a high chair.

The trend line looks promising for Texas Republicans. In 2002, Republican Sen. John Cornyn received 30 percent of the Hispanic vote. In 2002 Republican Rick Perry, running for governor against billionaire Hispanic Tony Sanchez, and Greg Abbott, running for attorney general, each pulled in around 35 percent. Texas Republicans are hoping to make it into the 40s this time, but much will depend on whether candidates like Alex Castano make it to November.

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