We always thought dubbing yourself the poster boy of anything — much like giving yourself a nickname — was something you had to wait patiently for someone else to say about you, no matter how much you knew you would make a good “Killer” or “Butch” or “Marilyn.” But in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s case, it was probably only a matter of time. “Tomorrow, I’m going up to Colorado to help out Tancredo; I helped that gal in Nevada, Angle,’ Arpaio said, referring to Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo and Nevada’s Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle. “I’m a poster boy on this issue.” This issue being illegal immigration. Indeed, the Times says the “dance card of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County” is a good indicator of just how eager conservatives are to look tough on immigration. Candidates are hoping some of Arpaio’s mojo from racially profiling Hispanic residents and conducting raids in Hispanic neighborhoods will rub off on them. “The Arizona law seems to be rewriting not just the rules on immigration, but the rules on how it is talked about on the campaign trail, too,” adds the Times, referring to proposed legislation that called for police officers to check immigration status and immigrants to provide authorization.
Even in states like New Mexico, which has a large Hispanic population, Republicans are counting on intolerance towards illegal immigrants to get out the vote. Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s Republican nominee for governor, would be the first Hispanic woman to run a state if elected. She’s ahead in the polls in part thanks to ads showing her at the border talking about her days as a prosecutor when she convicted lawbreakers who entered illegally. Both Martinez and her Democratic opponent have said they support ending the policy that lets illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses.
It’s too bad then that Latinos — towards whom much of this rhetoric is directed — don’t seem likely to come out and vote. The Pew Hispanic Center released a poll today whose results suggest that the fiery debate over Arizona’s law, coupled with Congress’s inaction on immigration, has turned off Latino voters. The poll found that Latinos back Democrats over Republicans 65 percent to 22 percent, but only 51 percent of Latino registered voters say they will absolutely go to the polls. Overall, 70 percent of registered voters plan to vote.