"Everybody can help, yeah, absolutely, you can all help. You don't need papers for voting. You don't need to be a registered voter to help."
on Thursday before the election, appear to have cost the Democratic candidate Francine Busby a congressional seat. She lost
with 45 % of the the vote to her opponent's 49%
It used to be possible for a candidate to say different things to different groups; now in an era of cheap, small recording devices, everyone hears everything a candidate says- with those words to a Latino group, the candidate appeared to be encouraging illegal aliens to vote. Had she not done so, she appeared likely
The GOP candidate, Brian Bilbray was in a weakened position because of his own immigration gaffe
On Tuesday night, Mr. Bilbray met with a handful of members of the local chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and faced some probing questions. Todd Garcia VanBoxtel, vice chairman of the group, said he was concerned that mass deportations of illegal immigrants would create an uproar? by separating families and disrupting neighborhoods.
In response, Mr. Bilbray sounded a softer tone than he often does on the campaign trail. "You're going to have displacement,"he said. But he also predicted the House and Senate dealmakers would find a "moderate, middle ground" in their negotiations, including removing a provision in the House bill that would make illegal immigrants felons. "We're not going to be punitive to immigrants, and we're not going to reward illegal immigrants,"? he said. An avid surfer, Mr. Bilbray tempered his remarks with tales of traveling to Mexico's beaches and growing up near the frontera.
Mr. Bilbray seemed to have walked the tightrope just right. Mr. Bilbray "probably didn't have enough votes to get an endorsement when he walked in"? to the meeting, Mr. Garcia VanBoxtel later said. But the group ended up supporting the Republican candidate and plans a mailing to 1,000 Hispanic households urging them to vote.
This may have gotten Bilbray 1000 Hispanic votes but this was the sort of thing that lost him the endorsement of the Minutemen, and other strong anti-immigration forces, who gave 4 percent of the vote to William Griffith
Interestingly, Bilbray's congressional votes
were overwhelmingly anti-immigration—exception on H-1b expansion. Had Busby taken a more moderate immigration stand, say even one like that of Senator Feinstein
or Senator Byron Dorgan
She might have won this congressional election. She could have criticized H-1b/L-1 expansion—which would have cost her virtually no Hispanic votes. She could have spoken forcefully about getting to the roots of the lack of economic opportunity in Mexico without paying any political price except possible loss of corporate donations. Had she done so, she could have been more critical of the rich that have profited from mass immigration—and taken the issue into areas that Bilbray simply couldn't touch.
Busby's failure was there from the start though, just looking at her statements on immigration
Implementing a Comprehensive Immigration Policy
# Toughen Penalties for Businesses Who Don't Play by the Rule and Continually Hire Undocumented Workers # Create a 'Smart Fence' That Utilizes Proven, 21st Century Radar Technology to Detect and Prevent Unlawful Border Crossings # Create a Demand-Based Guest Worker Program that Addresses Our Economic Needs # Oppose Amnesty
Francine believes that the problem with our immigration policy is that we don’t have one. On one hand, we have a "Keep Out" sign and on the other hand we have a "Help Wanted" sign. For years, we've heard heated rhetoric from politicians in Sacramento and Washington without any concrete results. Is it any wonder that citizens are frustrated and demanding action? We need to implement a comprehensive immigration policy that addresses all aspects or our immigration issues. Unfortunately, current leadership in Washington and Sacramento has been unwilling to address the issue. Francine supports John McCain's bipartisan immigration reform plan that will strengthen border security, increase penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and ensure that no jobs that Americans want are going to immigrant workers first. The legislation would also assist states and localities with the increased costs of education and healthcare that have come as a result of federal inaction on illegal immigration. She also supports the creation of a Smart Fence that uses proven 21st Century radar technology to detect and prevent undocumented border crossings.
Now, she was taking her cues
from the likes of Republican John McCain
Busby had sent a letter to McCain on Friday of last week urging him to discuss his tough comprehensive immigration plan while he was in San Diego.
She was actually thinking of the largest, seriously proposed increase in legal immigration in recent years as "tough". Part of what killed her was the mistaken belief that John McCain's empty, corporate-sponsored promises could be used to draw in Republicans.
In this case, she has no excuse—this wasn't a statement she made in the spur of the moment-it was a carefully crafted statement on her website.
Rob Richie summed
it up: "The challenge for Democrats is to affirm an agenda that is not only not the Republican agenda but also wins Republicans over to their side"
Failure to follow this advice, cost the Democrats this house seat.