On a conference call with reporters this morning, the Republican State Leadership Committee announced the formation of the Future Majority Caucus, an initiative to recruit and support women and minority candidates. It will be led by Republican governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.
Governor Martinez cautioned against treating immigration “as though that’s the only issue that Hispanic voters care about.” She named closing the achievement gap, the ability to work, and the ability to grow small businesses as other top concerns. Governor Sandoval likewise emphasized that Hispanic voters are not a “single-issue electorate,” and shouldn’t be treated as if they were.
When asked how relevant immigration-reform efforts in Washington are to efforts to attract Hispanics to the Republican party, Martinez said that she “applauds” Senator Marco Rubio for “working towards a solution” and in a recent conversation “encouraged him that what he’s doing is exactly what we need to do. . . .There’s a lot of space between amnesty and trying to even talk about deporting 11, 12 million people,” and “we have to do it together with Democrats.” She also raised concerns about border security with Rubio and believes that “we have to secure the border first as part of a comprehensive immigration reform.”
Governor Sandoval also praised Rubio for taking a “leadership role” on the issue, and said he thought it represented an opportunity for Republicans to “make clear that we welcome people in this country who come here legally.” He believes that “the immigration debate is going to be a strong way to attract more Hispanic candidates.”
Martinez pushed back against the criticism that her efforts to repeal New Mexico’s law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses would alienate Hispanics, pointing to a poll from the Albuquerque Journal finding that the majority of residents, including Hispanic residents, were against the law. It is a “public safety issue not an immigration issue,” she said.
Governor Martinez recalled that her conversion from a registered Democrat to a Republican occurred when Republican friends reached out to her and had a “sincere conversation” about issues. She emphasized that Republicans will appeal to Hispanics only “if we are careful about our tone and really listen and not be condescending about what we think they want or need.”