Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Illinois GOP wants votes so bad, they’re willing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (in their own way, of course)

I didn’t make it out to any events this year celebrating the May 5 holiday about Mexicans showing their national pride and ability to stand with the major powers of the world.

SANGUINETTI: GOP's "big" May 5 name
But there was one event I wish I could have made it out to – the one in which the Illinois Republican Party took a shot Monday night at praising Mexico – while also using the party at the River North neighborhood Hub 51 club to raise money for their political candidates come Nov. 4.

NOW MY DESIRE to have been there isn’t so much that I wanted to see Republican political types make fools of themselves while plopping sombreros on their heads and trying to chance “Viva Mexico!” without sounding too lame.

Democratic politicos are just as capable of being ridiculous when they do those things to try to get Latino votes.

What caught my attention was that their Cinco de Mayo event was being used as a political fundraiser. Yet as far as I could tell, none of the “top dog” candidates of this year’s GOP ticket were bothering to show.

Not Bruce Rauner, the gubernatorial nominee. Nor James Oberweis, who is theoretically the ‘top of the ticket’ with his bid for the U.S. Senate. Of course, with Oberweis’ past record of talking about immigration issues, his presence would have created too much potential for saying something stupid – even if he now claims he regrets that “commercial” in a decade old campaign for public office.

THE ONE WHERE he flew over Soldier Field and talked about how all the dreaded “illegal aliens” could fill the stadium each and every day?!?

Were Republicans focusing on that long-ago battle near Puebla ...
Actually, the best they could get was Evelyn Sanguinetti.

Before you say “Who?!?,” she’s Rauner’s running mate. She’s the lieutenant governor nominee. She’s also of Ecuadoran and Cuban ethnic origins, and raised amongst the Cuban exile community in Miami. Not exactly the perspective of the bulk of Illinois’ 2 million-plus Latinos.

... or consuming too many of these?
Which makes it appear as though Republicans value the governor backup as the person who goes to the events they’d rather not be seen at. Although there is the fact that Sanguinetti does speak Spanish (remember her phrases from the Election Night victory speech?).

SO MAYBE SHE was able to say something that wasn’t silly, while other Republican partisans drank margaritas and wrote out sizable checks to give Republican candidates some cash with which to campaign (so that Rauner doesn’t have to self-fund 100 percent of this year’s election cycle – even though he could afford to, if he had to).

The list of people who were hoped to attend did include some Spanish-tinged names, which makes me think Camp Rauner wants to create the image he’s appealing to some Latinos in the way that he’s trying to appeal to the African-American vote.

Which is more geared toward getting a few black people to vote for him, while many others just wind up deciding they could care less about this year’s election cycle.

Anything that cuts into the potential vote tally for Gov. Pat Quinn is a benefit to him.

IT IS THE reason that Rauner began running a series of television spots (although I have to confess to not having seen any of them on an actual television set, but only through the Capitol Fax newsletter’s website) whose common theme is that the people featured in them are not white.

SANCHEZ: Is his grudge universal?
One of them gives us Manny Sanchez, who identifies himself as the former co-chair in Illinois for Latinos for Obama, then says Rauner is, “the right, and the perfect, and the optimal” candidate for Illinois governor this year.

He doesn’t mention the fact that he was the guy who got dumped on by Quinn a couple of years ago when Quinn wanted to shift control of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority to himself and Sanchez stood in the way.

I get the fact that Sanchez is peeved, potentially feels a grudge, and would be looking for a way to undermine the governor. He’s being legitimate when he speaks about not supporting Quinn.

WE JUST SHOULDN’T presume that his view in any way represents a sizable share of the Latino electorate in Illinois.

And Republican operatives shouldn’t presume that because the party used a Mexican holiday to try to raise money for themselves without sending the big-name candidates that the Latino electorate is on the verge of making a massive shift in support away from the Democratic Party candidates.

It’s going to take a lot more than that to win over significant numbers of Latino voters – much more than I believe the GOP would ever be willing to offer.


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