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Whitman faces opposition while reaching out to Hispanic voters

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

As Meg Whitman aggressively steps up her Latino outreach efforts, some of the state’s Latinos aren’t merely letting her slip by in capturing one of the most influential and powerful voting blocs. 

This week, Whitman made the unprecedented move of opening up a campaign office in East Los Angeles where she was met with a group of raucous protestors, the Los Angeles Times reported.  "There has not been a Republican candidate for governor that has had an office in East L.A. for 30 years. So we are going to fight for every vote," she said. 

Some Latinos have called Whitman out for her shifting stances on immigration, bringing her past ads and rhetoric to account.  Among these is a past campaign ad that Whitman released of her alongside Pete Wilson, the very face of the controversial Proposition 187.  It was in that ad that Whitman proclaimed she would not be soft on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities.  "Meg will be tough as nails on illegal immigration. She'll fight to secure our border and go after sanctuary cities," it said that particular ad. 

Union members are among the most active in opposing Whitman in her current Latino outreach.  Her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown is also jumping on his Republican rival.  "Meg Whitman has been telling one story in English, and a different story in Spanish. It's no surprise that California's Latino voters are rejecting her cynical lies," he said in a statement. 

Prominent Democrats at the state legislative level have sought to use their influence to make sure that Whitman, according to their belief, doesn’t lead Hispanics astray.  One of those is Gil Cedillo, chairman of the Latino Legislative Caucus of California.  “Unfortunately, [Wilson] is not well received in the Latino community, especially by those who were politically active during that time period," he said concerning Whitman’s ties to the former Prop 187 governor. 

In July of this year, Rep. U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra, (D-Los Angeles) said that Jerry Brown has more credibility with the Hispanics since it was Brown who worked alongside Hispanic farmers. 

Whitman has talked tough on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, but has also said that she would not adopt an Arizona law for California.  As a result, a host of one of the most widely listened to talk radio stations in Los Angeles pressed Whitman over her shifting positions on immigration.

Whitman’s strategy can be interpreted in such a way that she understands the need to appeal to the broadest possible electorate, especially in California. And her aggressive Hispanic opposition might show that she presents a threat in splitting the Hispanic vote.  Or, she might just be seen as another pandering politician.

A Field Poll in July showed that Whitman and Brown were tied in taking the Hispanic vote.

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