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Posted on 02-16-2012
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In Colorado’s close races, the Latino vote is key

By Maribel Hastings

voters in Colorado, according to Robert Preuhs, an adjunct professor of political science at Metropolitan State College in Denver.
Immigration is a mobilizing issue for the community, as demonstrated by the statewide debate over the bill SB 126, known as Colorado ASSET, which would allow undocumented students to pay the same tuition rates as legal Colorado residents, Preuhs explained. They were also motivated by the campaign to pressure the only Latino Republican in the state House of Representatives, Robert Ramírez, to reconsider his opposition to the bill.
Dominating the Republican debate over immigration in Colorado, meanwhile, have been anti-immigrant figures like Tom Tancredo, the former congressman who ran for governor in 2010, but lost to Democrat and DREAM Act supporter, John Hickenlooper. That same year, another DREAM Act supporter, Senator Michael Bennet, won re-election by a mere 15,000 votes against Republican Ken Buck. Bennet got 81% of the Latino vote.
Preuhs recognizes that there's frustration among Latino voters in Colorado over "the lack of movement at the national level" on immigration reform, but at the same time, he indicates that the Republican message doesn't appeal to them.
If Romney sticks to his position on "self-deportation" and vetoing the DREAM Act, "he loses a lot of the Latino vote," Preuhs said.
That said, he warned that among the state's electorate as a whole, "some of these positions are popular among non-Latino voters, so I think you still have a relatively tight race in a competitive state here in Colorado."
The organization Mi Familia Vota, which promotes voter participation and registration, recognizes that in this electoral cycle they will face a number of obstacles to mobilizing voters.
One of these obstacles was presented by Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who, citing concerns about voter fraud, created the category of "inactive voter," encompassing anyone who voted, for example, in 2008 but not 2010. The issue is currently being challenged in court and is considered an attempt at voter suppression, particularly of minority voters like Hispanics, explained Grace López Ramírez, state director of Mi Familia Vota.
Another obstacle is the dissatisfaction among certain Latino voters over the failure to pass immigration reform and the effects of the current policy of deportations.
"It's hard to mobilize voters when your friends or your family members are in deportation proceedings," said Julie Gonzáles of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, although she added that the anti-immigrant rhetoric Republicans ...
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