Watching Outside of Washington: Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Embracing Arizona…But Can They Be Trusted?
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With Barack Obama in the White House, it is unlikely that any progress will be made on the federal level to secure our borders, crack down on illegal immigration, or cut legal immigration. On the national level, the best patriotic immigration reformers can do is block amnesties and associated increases of legal immigration—which, however, is easier than it would have been if a RINO like John McCain was President.

Still, a great deal of progress is being made on the state level—with Arizona's SB 1070 singlehandedly putting immigration back in the national consciousness.

There are numerous ways that state leaders can fight immigration—mandating E-Verify, blocking sanctuary cities, entering in 287(g) contracts with the federal government, and blocking federal benefits to illegal immigrants.

Eventually, these state leaders will become national leaders. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is already being widely touted as a presidential candidate for 2012. There are reasons to be skeptical of her patriotic immigration reform credentials. But the fact remains that when governors take a stand against illegal immigration, the American people are ready to stand beside them.

So how immigration is playing in gubernatorial races this year?

Of course, we can't talk about immigration and the gubernatorial elections without mentioning former Congressman Tom Tancredo's announcement on Monday that he will run for Governor on the Constitution Party ticket. This comes virtually out of the blue. Many people are shocked to see him run on a Third Party ticket.

Tancredo's name had been thrown around as a potential Republican gubernatorial candidate. But he opted not to run and eventually endorsed former Congressman Scott McInnis who was opposed only by Dan Maes, a complete political novice who was not considered a serious candidate.

McInnis was all but guaranteed the nomination—until July 13 when the Denver Post published an exposé detailing his alleged plagiarism. .[McInnis' articles for foundation lift ideas, words from 20-year-old essay, By Karen E. Crummy]

In 2005, McInnis wrote a number of brief items about water policy totaling 150 pages for an outfit called the Hasan Family Foundation. The Denver Post detailed massive plagiarism of his work.  McInnis tried to blame his 82-year old researcher who fired back that McInnis hand lied to him and said that the work was not for publication and simply background information.

More troublesome than the plagiarism or McInnis' attempt to throw an 82 year-old man under the bus was the enormous sum of 300,000 dollars he received for such little work. McInnis was working full time at the DC law firm Hogan and Hartson while he was making this money.  Ali Hasan is the founder of Muslims for Bush and has run for state office a number of times—suggesting that McInnis' phony job was made up for political reasons.

The Republican Governors Association called upon McInnis to step down. And shortly after the scandal, a Denver Post poll found that Republicans strongly supported Tancredo over McInnis.

But neither McInnis nor Maes had any intention of dropping out. With the primary on August 10, Tancredo could not have collected the signatures to get on the ballot.

This caused Tancredo to issue an ultimatum on Thursday requiring that the candidates both drop out and let the GOP select a more electable candidate. Tancredo wrote in his World Net Daily column,

"The solution I proposed has two parts, each of which is moral, legal and politically doable. The winner of the Aug. 10 primary should announce the following day that he is withdrawing from the race and asking the state Republican Party vacancy committee to select a new candidate who is capable of winning the election. That committee could draw from a list of four or five veteran Colorado Republicans, all of whom would have a better chance in November than either McInnis or Maes.

"And here's the second part of the political solution to this unprecedented problem. If the two candidates do not agree to withdraw and let the party select a new candidate, I will run for governor of Colorado on the American Constitution Party ticket...

"I would much prefer that the victor in the Aug. 10 primary turn to the state Republican Party and allow the selection of a new candidate. Yes, I might be one of the half-dozen candidates considered in that process, but I am willing to abide by the choice whoever it is and fully support the individual selected." [Unprecedented dangers call for unconventional solutions, By Tom Tancredo, World Net Daily, July 24 2010]

Both McInnis and Maes are staying in the race. Tancredo now says he's in it to win.

As you can imagine, the Republican Party establishment of Colorado is not happy with Tancredo. A number of Tea Party groups are also urging him to work within the Republican Party.

According to GOP State Chair and Karl Rove lackey Dick Wadhams:

"If Tom Tancredo carries through on his threat to run as a third party candidate, he will be responsible for the election of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper as governor and for other races that will be imperiled as well." [Tom Tancredo, foe of illegal immigrants, to run for Colo. governor?, USA Today, July 23, 2010]

However, Tancredo's reason for running is that McGinnis's scandals and Maes' complete lack of political experience will doom the Republicans to defeat anyway.

It is difficult to imagine Tancredo winning the general election unless his run prompts the Republican nominee to drop out, which is what he has stated is his goal.

This is a very gutsy move from Tancredo, but that's what we've come to expect from him.

It is a pretty safe bet to assume that Tancredo will make immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. And he cannot be ignored.

Outside of Colorado, there are a number of other gubernatorial candidates with strong records on immigration.

  • In Georgia, former Congressman Nathan Deal is currently facing former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a run-off election on August 10.

While in Congress, Deal had been one of the strongest leaders on the immigration issue. He had not just voted well, but taken initiative. He was the primary sponsor of half a dozen bills to end birthright citizenship and co-sponsored Tancredo's moratorium bill.

Deal had been running in third place polling at or around 10% until he began making illegal immigration the center piece of his campaign. Deal received a last minute endorsement by Tom Tancredo. He ran ads saying

"Liberals won't like it when I empower local law enforcement to help deport illegal aliens…But it must be done, because the federal government has failed to secure our borders and illegal aliens are costing Georgia taxpayers over a billion dollars every single year." [Immigration is focus of new Deal ad, Shira Toeplitz, Politico, July 7, 2010]

Both Deal and Handel have stated they support Arizona's law. Handel has received the support of Jan Brewer as well as Sarah Palin.  While Handel vocally defended some of Georgia's immigration laws against the Justice Department as Georgia Secretary of State, she does not have as much of a record as Deal.

Opposition to illegal immigration is so strong in Georgia that the presumed Democratic nominee, former governor Roy Barnes, has already stated that he would sign an Arizona-style bill.

  • In South Carolina, the run-off between Gresham Barrett and Nikki Haley was eerily similar to Georgia's Deal-Handel run-off

Like Deal, Gresham Barrett had a near perfect voting record in Congress with a career A+ grade from Numbers USA. Both he and Haley supported Arizona's immigration law. But just like in Georgia, Haley did not have much of a record to back it up, though she did vote for the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act, which was a watered-down anti-illegal immigration measure.

As with Handel, Sarah Palin came in on the side of the female candidate. It propelled her to victory.

Needless to say, as the daughter of Sikh immigrants, Haley is being paraded around by the usual panderers as part of the brand new diverse GOP. Weekly Standard contributing editor Noemie Emery called her "the face of the modern Republican Party, which will be much more female, much younger, and brown." Writing of Haley and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Emery went on:

"In Nixon's day, 'southern strategy' meant a coded appeal to fear and resentment, but this was before Indian power swept through the home of Calhoun and the Cajuns.  It now means something quite new and different — the diverse and improved GOP."

[GOP defeats death by diversifying, Noemie Emery, The Examiner, June 17, 2010]

Haley cannot be blamed by her politically correct supporters—and her victory was based largely on White Evangelicals who liked her conversion to their faith, not on imaginary minority Republican voters. To Haley's credit, she has largely avoided touting her own ethnic identity.

However politicians are seen as symbols. Through no fault of her own, if Haley becomes governor and follows through with her promises to bring Arizona's law to South Carolina, it will have the unfortunate side effect of reinforcing the "legal immigration si, illegal immigration no" propaganda.

  • In Tennessee, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has a 12 point edge over Congressman Zach Wamp and an even greater lead over Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey for the August 2 primary.

All three candidates claim to support Arizona's law and are running ads on immigration. Ramsey ad states: "Washington refuses to secure our border ... and now President Obama's filed suit to stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws. Liberals want amnesty. Even though 10 percent of Tennesseans are out of work. As governor, Ron Ramsey will require police to check the citizenship of everyone they arrest." [Tennessee: Haslam, Ramsey ads support Arizona-style immigration law, by Andy Sher, Chattanooga Times Free Press, July 12, 2010]

Zach Wamp has an A+ career rating from Numbers USA and is a member of its 5 for 5 club for co-sponsoring bills against 1) Birthright Citizenship, 2) Chain Migration, 3) the Diversity Lottery, and for 4) E-Verify and 5) Assist Local Law and Enforcement.

Handel, Haley, and Haslam have all said the right things. But we will not know where they truly stand until if and when they take office.

Of course, it is excellent to see that in many states support for the Arizona law is a prerequisite for even being considered for statewide office.

But the record shows that candidates cannot even be trusted to stick to their campaign promises after merely winning the Republican primary.

Tom Tancredo has documented California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's 180 on immigration.

"During the primary, Whitman ran ads saying she is 'tough as nails on illegal immigration' and is '100% against amnesty.' She continued, 'As governor, I will crack down on so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco who thumb their nose at our laws. Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the State of California. No driver's license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education. 'Republican voters took the bait and gave her the nomination. She immediately turned her back on them and started running ads in Spanish stating 'se opone a ley de Arizona y proposición 187' meaning 'She opposed Arizona's law and proposition 187.'" [On Establishment Republicans' Amazing Immigration Flip Flops, Tom Tancredo, July 9, 2010]

Numbers USA's congressional report cards make it very easy to find out if a Congressman running for office has put his vote where his mouth is. Unfortunately, it is much more difficult to find the records of state level politicians—if they have a record at all. There is no good comprehensive list of passed and proposed state level immigration legislation available online, and it is difficult to find vote tallies for many states. Some states do not even put their roll calls online. NumbersUSA has candidate surveys for state level races, but very few gubernatorial candidates have filled out.

Check to see if candidates in your state have responded, and if not, contact them and send the survey. If you are in a candidate forum, don't just ask them about the Arizona bill. Ask them specifically if they would E-Verify across the state, if they will defund sanctuary cities, and if they would cut off all non-federally mandated government services to illegal aliens. does not endorse candidates. The strong voting records of some of these congressmen do not mean they will be the best governors.

But the politicians know where the American people stand on immigration. The American people need to know where the politicians stand.

"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.

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