GOP avoids Chavez event

The annual Cesar Chavez banquet will be held on March 27, and, for the first time in 17 years, it will have a Nevada governor in attendance.

The event will be held in the Tahoe Ballroom of the Grand Sierra Resort, and Gov. Steve Sisolak will give a keynote speech. Since the inception of the event, all Nevada governors until now have been Republicans, but governors Guinn, Gibbons and Sandoval failed to attend during their terms of office.

The GOP reluctance extended down the ballot to other offices, as well. Few Republican officeholders attended. In 2013, GOP political consultant Peter Ernaut said he thought their avoidance was a mistake (“Getting straight,” RN&R, April 4, 2013).

“It certainly is disappointing not to see more Republicans at this important function,” he said. “The key to getting people in your corner is putting in the work, using the elbow grease, and I think most Republicans would be well-served to remember that.”

Ronald Reagan worked hard to bring Latinos into the GOP, saying their values like hard work and religious devotion made them natural Republicans.

“Latinos are Republicans,” Reagan said. “They just don’t know it yet.”

But many leading Republicans have been unable to resist exploiting the immigration issue, defeating Reagan’s hopes and driving this important voting bloc—Latinos make up about a fifth of the vote in Nevada—to the Democrats.

A 1994 anti-migrant ballot measure in California, Proposition 187, was sponsored by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and then spread to other states. It is famous in political circles as a legendary blunder that alienated Latinos for a generation.

And more recently, Donald Trump has elevated anti-immigrant policies to a level not seen since the 1920s.

In his last book, U.S. Sen. John McCain warned, “Right now, Republicans are on the wrong side of that progress, and if we want to retain our competitiveness in the fastest-growing communities in the country we’ll stop letting the zealots drive the debate, and fix the problems that [give] them their soapbox.”