The Republican Party’s highest-ranking Latino official abruptly resigned Friday, marking the latest casualty in the GOP’s bitter internal fight over immigration and dealing another setback to President Bush’s years-long effort to court Latino voters. The announcement by Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida that he was quitting as general chairman of the Republican National Committee came after he had expressed frustration over the tenor of the immigration debate within his party….
The White House had engineered the ascent of the Cuban-born Martinez over the objections of many conservatives as part of an effort to repair the GOP’s image among Latinos. That image suffered when Republican congressional leaders and conservative activists stymied administration-backed measures that would have created a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants….
Martinez’s frustration was well known. He had warned that a continuation of the GOP’s 2006 tactics — airing anti-illegal immigration television ads that many believed used ethnic stereotypes — could doom the party’s hope of competing for the country’s fastest-growing voter bloc. Those tactics, strategists said, erased many of the gains achieved by Bush and his chief political advisor, Karl Rove, who had been assiduously courting Latinos since Bush’s first run for Texas governor in 1994…. “I believe that not to play this card right would be the destruction of our party,” Martinez said in a spring interview with the Los Angeles Times. “Hispanics make up about 13% of our country, and by 2020 will be closer to 20%. It is a demographic trend that one cannot overlook.”
A while back, Charley noted that the current GOP prez gang’s near-unanimous refusal to appear at Tavis Smiley’s and Univision’s debates (other than John McCain, to his credit, who coincidentally was on Smiley’s radio show tonight) seemed likely to drive minority voters — whom Karl Rove among others had been trying to court — into the Democratic camp. One of our resident GOP boosters called Charley’s post borderline “bigotry,” and argued as follows:
Charley – your post stereotypes people to the point of bigotry … There are many black conservatives, and they tend to vote Re[p]ublican, if not Libertarian or Constitution party.
The RNC Chair IS a Hispanic – Mel Martinez – who travels the country ad[d]ressing Hispanic interest groups in their own language.
I’d say Mr. Martinez has cast his lot with Charley’s analysis.