Clinton's Raza man: Yesterday, Hillary Clinton tapped former National Council of La Raza president Raul Yzaguirre "to co-chair her presidential campaign and lead its outreach to Hispanic voters" according to the Associated Press.
Deemed the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the country, I'm not necessarily sure just what that means. Surely, La Raza has a history of beltway work and probably has a bigger name in the Southern and South West than elsewhere in the United States, but they have little brand recognition or political inroads in Northwestern or Northeastern states. The same, actually, might be said about presidential candidate Bill Richardson, which might speak more to why the Clinton camp hired Yzaguirre than anything else.
The anti-immigrant right has always tried to paint La Raza as an extremist threat to the United States and gone as far as mistaken it for the truly crazy California based newspaper La Voz de Aztlan. And I guess if you are truly anti-immigrant, La Raza could be seen that way, but on policy the agency has been pretty middle of the road and sometimes actually conservative, a legacy of Mr. Yzguirre's term as their president. I mean, La Raza was all goo-goo over Alberto Gonzalez when he was nominated to serve as Attorney General so if you are waiting for them to ask for his resignation (which they should as it would probably give La Raza some stature they sometimes lack) don't hold your breath.
But I digress, by then Yzaguirre had resigned as president. What sticks with me from his tenure, though, is the agency's lack of interest in working with Latino gay advocacy agencies or advocates on LGBT issues. If it wasn't for Martin Ornelas, then CEO of the National Latino LGBT Organization (LLEGO), La Raza would have probably avoided gay issues all together. As it was, they pretty much always passed the buck to LLEGO anyway. So, in some ways, a disappointing pick by Hillary.
Guiliani's 5 de Mayo comes early this year: In the meantime, at least La Raza has credibility and some legislative muscle on certain issues. The DC-based Latino Coalition, on the other hand, hasn't seen a Latino-pandering politician they don't like (whether it's George "macaca" Allen or the esteemed former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Sr., M.D.) or a press release distribution agency that they won't flood. So when it comes to the Coalition the less said the better?
Except that of all the presidential candidates they have invited to their annual 2-day Small Business Economic Summit in DC, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the first to confirm his attendance (he'll make an appearance on May 1st).
Among their stands, the Coalition supported the more draconian immigration bills surging through the nation's legislative bodies last year by lambasting the McCain-Kennedy bill as "polarizing" and criticized New York Senator Hillary Clinton last year for standing her ground in protecting HIV prevention funds for affected communities in the larger urban centers.
Surprisingly the Coalition ended up endorsing Clinton in her Senate re-election bid last year. In the past they have also endorsed IL State Senator Barack Obama. If Guiliani is the only one to show and pander, will he get the nod?
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