Zaphod Beeblebrox is an Arizona Republican

By Tom Prezelski

Re-Blogged from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion

Recent chatter among folks who are ostensibly smarter than you and I
tells us that Republicans are making an effort to appeal to “Hispanics.”
An inter-party chingazo reported in Sonoran Alliance gives us some insight into why such efforts may be doomed.

Though no one has yet declared for the 2014 Republican primary for
Secretary of State, everybody already knows that the race is between
Representative Steve Montenegro (R-Litchfield Park) and Senator Michelle
Reagan (R-Scottsdale). Because they have both accumulated solidly
partisan and conservative voting records, there is little to distinguish
the two of them other than personality and style, so it seems
inevitable that things would get personal and nasty early on. In this
case, some in Reagan’s camp have already resorted to race-baiting.

This arises from a letter sent out by Montenegro and 3 other Republican legislators
which was critical of three Reagan-sponsored bills aimed at fixing the
initiative process. Within 24 hours, a consultant working on behalf of
Reagan fired off a tweet:

Tolino_Racist_Tweet-300x258

Tolino’s comment is not only racist and stupid, but it has little
basis in fact. John Loredo has not been in the legislature in nearly ten
years, and anyone who has actually followed the legislature knows that
Senator Gallardo (D-Phoenix) and Montenegro can hardly be called “BFFs”
on this or nearly any other issue. As far as anybody can tell, the only
thing that ties the three of them is their Spanish last name. This is
enough for a hack like Mr. Tolino.

Say, that name “Tolino” ends in a vowel. It sounds pretty close to Spanish…hurm.

It should be noted that Senator Reagan’s close working relationship
with Senator Meza (D-Phoenix) might be considered
“#PanderingToHispanics” under Mr. Tolino’s standards. This is to say
nothing of Reagan’s own comments in a blog post regarding a Cinco de Mayo event she attended in Peoria:

The LD 24 GOP is doing an admirable job of reaching out
to and interacting with the Hispanic community and I am highly
supportive of their efforts.  Registering
new voters is a priority and I thank all the volunteers who came out to
help citizens engage in their most sacred right – voting!

ZaphodIn
fairness to Senator Reagan, this Tolino guy may have been a rogue
operator. It should be noted, however, that she has not publicly
repudiated what her consultant said on her behalf. I am not even going
to attempt to explain the bizarre culture of Phoenix Republican
political consultants here, as my earthy and practical Tucson brain
cannot get itself around how these people, often despite questionable
judgement and competence, become so powerful, but suffice it to say,
this story probably tells us more about Arizona Republicans than Senator
Reagan. Like Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy in Douglas
Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, whose brief term in
office was hampered by the fact that his two heads were always arguing,
Republicans seem of two minds about reaching out to Hispanics.

Historically, folks with Spanish surnames have not fared well in
Republican primaries in Arizona. Montenegro, who is of Salvadoran and
not Mexican extraction, is a notable, and very recent, exception. In
2002, Tom Horne defeated Jaime Molera, the well-regarded incumbent
Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a Republican primary after a
race-baiting campaign. In 2004, a Mexican-American Republican lost a
congressional primary in Southern Arizona to the late Joe Sweeney,
an openly racist perennial candidate. Numerous other, less high-profile
examples, show that, at the very least, a Spanish name is a
disadvantage in a Republican primary, and exploiting this fact is
potentially a winning strategy.

Republican efforts to reach out to Latinos may well be sincere, even
if these are largely clueless and clumsy, but it certainly undermines
their cause when, at the same time, they make an appeal to bigoted
sentiments. I am probably not someone who should be giving advice to
Republicans, but I have a suggestion in this regard. A community that
represents over a quarter of the State’s population is not a
special-interest group to be “pandered to.” They are a part of the
fabric that makes Arizona what it is and have values, needs, and
concerns that deserve to be taken seriously. This will require more than
showing up at a few events, and is certainly not helped by letting your
consultants say bigoted things against members of your own party. If
Republicans can learn this, maybe they can hold on a little longer.

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