Quantcast

Posts Tagged ‘Maria Elena Durazo’



Untold Story: How the Latino Vote Hit Critical Mass

Monday, November 15th, 2010

By Richie Ross
Special to Calbuzz

Back in 1992, the first “year of the woman,” both Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were on the ballot for election to the United States Senate.  They both won.  The Los Angeles Times exit poll calculated that they each received 52% of the Latino vote.

In 1994, then-Governor Pete Wilson put Proposition 187 on the ballot.  It was the nation’s first anti-immigrant initiative.  The hallmark of the campaign was the famous television ad with images of undocumented people running across the border.  The announcer intoned, “They keep coming.”

If he only knew!

In the just concluded election, Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer captured 65% or 80% of that vote (depending on which exit poll you believe). More importantly, it was a bigger pie – 3 times larger than back in 1992. It was one of the major factors that kept the red tide out of California – and a factor that will only get bigger.

Here’s the story of how that happened…

Beginning in 1994, California began to change.  The numbers of immigrants who became citizens grew exponentially each year.  According to the Department of Homeland Security’s statistics, prior to Proposition 187, the number of new citizens in California each year had been a steady 50,000 to 60,000.  In 1994, the number jumped to 118,567.  In 1995, it was 171,285.  In 1996, 378,014. You get the idea.

Also in 1994, a husband and wife team, Miguel Contreras the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Maria Elena Durazo, then the leader of the Hotel Workers in Los Angeles (now Miguel’s successor at the Labor Fed) began something new: they linked organizing immigrant workers to organizing immigrant voters.  And they hired a young immigrant-rights firebrand, Fabian Nunez, as he protested Proposition 187 by carrying the Mexican flag down Broadway in Los Angeles.

Nunez served as L.A. Labor’s political director and eventually became the Speaker of the Assembly.

The campaigns we developed broke new ground, organized new union workers, and increased the political impact Latino voters have had on California politics – simultaneously tripling their number of registered voters, increasing the Democratic share of that vote by 50%, and doubling the percentage of the total votes cast in California from Latinos.

Through the rest of the 1990′s our campaigns focused on legislative races in Los Angeles.  We succeeded.  But it was all small.

In 2000, Maria Elena pushed for something bigger…

In 2000, our message was controversial (until it worked).  “If you want to make a difference, voting isn’t enough.  Don’t bother voting unless you sign our pledge to get 100% of your family to vote.”  Latino turnout rose… and accounted for 14% of the votes cast according to the State’s voter registration and voting history records.

In 2005, over dinner with some friends, Maria Elena heard a successful Latina businesswoman bemoaning the low Latino turn-out for Antonio Villaraigosa in March of 05. The woman told Maria Elena that it was “Imperdonable” (Unforgivable).

The City’s voting records show that the L.A. Labor Fed’s “Imperdonable” campaign increased Latino turn-out in the Mayoral run-off by 50%.

In May this year, Maria Elena called us together.  Her message was clear.  Latinos would end up voting for Jerry Brown.  That would be easy.  The challenge was how to motivate them to vote at all.

Fortunately, the Republicans in Arizona wrote a new law.

When we conducted focus groups, people brought the issue up to us.  When we polled it, we found 93% of California Latinos knew about it, 84% said it was more about profiling than immigration, and 73% thought it could happen in California. That view became more  believable when Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner in the Republican primary tried to outdo one another as anti-immigrant politicians.

So instead of a campaign where our candidate was a 72-year-old white guy, Maria Elena and the L.A Fed ran a campaign on behalf of “Tuesday” – Martes – and against an opponent – Arizona – that research told us Latinos were motivated to defeat.

And Fabian?  After he met with Maria Elena this summer, he decided to fund the “Martes Si, Arizona No!” television ad campaign. [Which not coincidentally included a pitch in favor of Prop. 25, the measure for a majority vote on the state budget -- Ed]

Latinos accounted for 22% of the votes cast in California.  None of us know how much bigger this trend will be.  We do know that Pete Wilson’s TV ad got one thing right… they keep coming… to the polls.

Editor’s note: For more on labor’s 2010 mailings to Latinos, including prayer cards of Jerry Brown with Mother Teresa and Cesar Chavez, check this out.

Excloo: Inside Labor’s Bid to Boost Latino Turnout

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

A coalition of Southern California and Central Valley labor groups plans to spend $2.5 million over the next three weeks on a coordinated, Spanish language multi-media campaign to boost turnout among occasional Latino voters for the Nov. 2 election.

Led by Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, and former Speaker Fabian Nunez, the group has invited Spanish language news organizations to a press conference today to unveil details of the program, which includes TV advertising, a direct mail effort and a get-out-the-vote operation.

Based on the slogan “Martes (Tuesday), si, Arizona, no” the campaign uses the specter of Arizona’s controversial law targeting illegal immigrants as a pitch for Latinos to vote because “Los republicanos quieren traer la ley de Arizona a California” – Republicans want to bring Arizona’s law to California.

Although the group is operating independently of Jerry Brown’s campaign,  their effort strongly attacks his GOP rival Meg Whitman. One mail piece places her photo alongside shots of Sarah Palin and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer;  above a headline on another piece reads, “Meg Whitman ayudo a Sarah Palin y Sarah Palin* apoyo la ley de Arizona” – Whitman helped Palin, who supports Arizona’s law.

Another piece is a letter signed by labor leader Durazo that calls Brown “un verdadero amigo a nuestra communidad” – a true friend to our community – and says that Whitman has two faces – “tiene dos caras” and describes her as attacking immigrants in English while saying on Spanish television that she is a friend – “En la television Ingles ataca a los immigrantes. En la television espanol Whitman dice que ella es neustra amiga.”

The letter is to be folded around one of several holy cards – one of them features a photo of a young Brown walking with Cesar Chavez and another has an image of him speaking to Mother Teresa; each includes an inscription saying that “El democrata Jerry Brown ayudo” Chavez and Mother Teresa  – the Democrat helped the two Latino community icons.

The voter turnout campaign is being managed by consultant Richie Ross, who said it is based on focus group and polling research of “occasional Latino voters,” defined as those who did not vote in the 2006 election for governor, but did vote in the February 2008 Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“That was the sweet spot,” Ross said. “We tried to pick a universe where we had a high chance of success and the numbers could make a difference.”

The campaign is being financed jointly by the L.A. labor group, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council and political committees controlled by Nunez and by Democratic state Senator Dean Florez, who represents a large swath of the Central Valley. It targets 500,000 households, with a goal of bringing an additional 200,000 Latino voters to the polls.

Among the elements:

–A 30-second spot that cuts between images of protests against the Arizona law and campaign leaders Durazo and Nunez saying directly into the camera that Republicans are attacking schools and families, and that Latinos should vote to prevent Arizona-style legislation in California.

–A series of mail pieces, to include two posters, two postcards and Durazo’s letter with the holy cards inserted. One of the postcards shows a photo of a triumphant Whitman laughing with fists clenched and arms raised: “Nunca!” reads a large headline – Never! One of posters pictures Whitman, Palin and Brewer over a headline that reads, “Estas Republicanas estan unidas en contra de nosotros” – These Republican women are united against us.

–A labor-backed ground operation that includes phone banking and door-to-door organizing in L.A., San Diego, Imperial and Central Valley counties.

Latinos represent about one-third of California’s adult population, but only about 18 percent of likely voters, according to a study released last month by the Public Policy Institute of California. PPIC reported that about 65 percent are registered Democrats, 18 percent Republicans and 14 percent decline-to-state independents, and that about 75 percent live in Southern California or the Central Valley.

The labor group’s goal of bringing an additional 200,000 Latino voters to the polls, if successful, could represent as much as 3-4 percent of the November electorate, depending on overall turnout, a number that could be determinative in the tight Whitman-Brown race.

The 500,000 households were targeted after focus groups, conducted in June, that included second and third generation Latinos as well as more recently arrived citizens and that focused on discussions of the Arizona law. A poll, including 600 Latino respondents defined as occasional voters, followed in July.

As described by Ross, the findings showed that 93 percent of those surveyed had heard of the Arizona law, 86 percent opposed it and 73 percent believe a similar law can occur in California.

The research for the campaign was done months before the story broke about Nicky Diaz, Whitman’s undocumented housekeeper, and none of the campaign materials refer to that controversy.

“Nicky may convince some people to vote for Jerry Brown,” Ross said. “We’re just trying to convince them to get up and go vote that day.”

P.S. Harold Meyerson has a good take on the importance of Latino turnout here.

*Department of Corrections: In an early version of this post, we mistakenly omitted the second use of Palin’s name in the Spanish text of the mailer, which confused the meaning of the sentence. The mailer reads: “Meg Whitman ayudo a Sarah Palin, y Sarah Palin apoyo la ley de Arizona.”  Translation: Meg Whitman helped Sarah Palin, who supports Arizona’s law. Sorry for the confusion.