Abbott: Don’t be so quick to paint Latinos as Democrats

Abbott: Don’t be so quick to paint Latinos as Democrats
by Attorney General Greg Abbott
September 8, 2013

O. Ricardo Pimentel’s opinions on Texas election law rulings are based on outdated notions that Latino values differ from Republican values.

Pimentel tries to pigeonhole races, political parties and ideology. He refuses to admit that Republicans embrace the Latino community and that Latino values are aligned with the Republican Party.

The redistricting process Pimentel criticizes actually disproves the stereotypes he still clings to. In reality, the Texas Legislature did all it could under the law to draw legislative districts that would re-elect Latino Republicans: John Garza, Jose Aliseda, Raul Torres, Aaron Pena, Larry Gonzales and U.S. Reps. Bill Flores and Quico Canseco (in addition to newly elected Latino Republicans Jason Villalba and J. M. Lozano).

Far from discriminating against Latinos, the Texas redistricting process advances Latino involvement in the Texas legislative process. The sin? It advances Latino Republicans rather than Latino Democrats.

The Obama administration’s interference in Texas’ redistricting and voter ID litigation does not protect voting rights. It protects the Democratic Party. Just a few months ago, high-ranking Obama operatives launched a campaign to “turn Texas blue.” The administration’s foray into Texas’ voting rights litigation is just another page in that political playbook.

In redistricting, the Obama administration has aligned itself with Democratic state representatives and Democratic members of Congress who already are suing Texas. It is no surprise, then, that the legal position of President Barack Obama’s attorneys seeks to improve Democratic candidates’ prospects. Of course, Obama’s attorneys conceal this partisan agenda with rhetoric about minority voting rights. But it is no coincidence that every change to district lines supported by the administration benefits Democrats. Behind the empty allegations of racial discrimination lies one goal — helping Democrats in 2014.

The president’s partisan use of the Voting Rights Act actually hurts minority voters in Texas. With the administration’s support, redistricting litigation already has unseated Texas state representatives Aliseda, Torres, Pena and Garza, as well as U.S. representative Canseco. These lawmakers — all Republicans — won in 2010 in predominantly Hispanic districts. In 2011, however, the Obama administration and other partisan interest groups succeeded in getting a court to draw district lines so that only a Democrat could win these seats. As a result, these Republican Hispanic representatives lost their seats in 2012. Aliseda chose not to run for re-election; his district had been dismantled altogether at Democrats’ request.

The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats’ fear that Republican candidates are making inroads with Hispanic voters. Democrats could never “turn Texas blue” if that trend continues, so they are asking courts to draw district lines that guarantee Democratic victory.

Similarly, polling consistently shows that Hispanic Texans strongly support voter ID requirements, another target of the administration’s litigious political strategy. Electoral fraud harms voters of all races, and voter ID is a simple, nondiscriminatory way to help stop it. Getting an ID is free of charge for any Texan who needs one. Voter ID laws already have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Crying “voter suppression” is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom will ever be prevented from voting.

By attempting to put Texas’ elections under his thumb, the Obama administration is not only interfering with the way the Voting Rights Act was intended to work — it is also sowing racial divide to score cheap political points. The president is using the legal system as a sword to wage partisan battles rather than a shield to protect voting rights. This overreaching action undermines the Voting Rights Act and the rule of law. Texas will not tolerate it. So far, neither will the Supreme Court.

In Texas, we are working to move beyond the politics of skin color. It divides us for no good reason, and it conceals the real issues affecting Texans every day. Republicans are working with all racial groups on our common dream — the American Dream — that is firmly lodged in liberty, not government. We share a belief that faith, family and free enterprise are the keys to a strong and prosperous future for Texas. Together we will live up to the ideal that any child of any background has a chance to smile, to hope, to dream and achieve — not because of their ZIP code, their heritage or their family history, but because we live in a Texas that includes all.

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