While Republicans have risked alienating Hispanic voters even further by supporting Arizona's harsh new immigration law, the GOP has managed to recruit a better, more prominent crop of Hispanic candidates than the Democratic Party this year. Slate has a good overview of the Hispanic GOP candidates in top-tier races, leading off with Susana Martinez, the Republican gubernatorial contender in New Mexico whose right-wing views include a hard-line stance against illegal immigrants. If Martinez prevails, Democrats should be quaking in their boots, writes Molly Ball:
If she wins in November, she will be the first female Hispanic governor in U.S. history—and an instant national GOP spokeswoman…In addition to Martinez, who currently leads in the polls and has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, there's Marco Rubio, the Tea Party favorite who drove Gov. Charlie Crist out of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Florida, and Brian Sandoval, a former judge who holds a big lead in the Nevada gubernatorial race. Sure, that's only three candidates. But in the 74 elections this year for governor or U.S. Senate—not all of them competitive—there are no Democratic Hispanic nominees. "Republicans have done a great job of recruiting Hispanic candidates," one Democratic strategist told me. "They are giving us a big wakeup call this year."
The GOP's Hispanic candidates won't necessarily be an immediate draw for Hispanic voters, given the group's overwhelming support for Obama and the Democrats in 2008. But it could certainly help the Republican Party seem more diverse and inclusive in what's shaping up to be a banner year for minority GOP candidates. We already know that Nikki Haley will almost certainly become South Carolina's first Indian-American governor, while Tim Scott, the black GOP candidate for Congress in South Carolina's 1st district, stands a great chance of becoming the first black Republican in Congress since former Rep. J.C. Watts retired in 2003.