Hispanics become focus in election

Advocates blast Gardner

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With November elections around the corner, immigration-reform advocates are banking on immigration issues to rally voters and counteract the notoriously low voter turnout in midterm elections.

Polls show the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, is neck and neck, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Party control of the current Democratic Senate likely will be decided by races in six states: Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska, Iowa and Arkansas.

In Denver on Thursday, immigrant-advocacy groups announced the launch of the Colorado Immigration Voter Accountability Project targeting 45,000 likely voters before November’s election.

Sonia Marquez, an organizer for CIRC Action Fund, said the campaign would focus on the lack of action from House Republicans on an immigration-reform package.

Marquez said that the group planned to highlight Gardner’s voting record concerning immigration issues. While in the past Gardner offered a tough stance on immigration, he recently was one of 11 Republicans to vote against a House measure that would have ended President Barack Obama’s policy allowing “DREAMers,” or undocumented immigrants, brought to the country as children, to avoid deportation for two years. Marquez said Gardner’s flip on immigration was merely a campaign tactic.

“The key word is accountability,” Marquez said during the news conference. “We will hold the House Republicans accountable. ... All we have received are votes to deport DREAMers, now we will work so Cory Gardner gets no votes.”

Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano said, “While some may attack his support for reform, Cory has never shied away from confronting the challenge (of immigration reform)” and that Gardner would continue “pressuring House leadership to take up the issue.”

Gardner was bashed by several Spanish-language ads run by SEIU that targeted his past voting record on immigration issues.

The newest push from immigration-advocacy groups will work through door-to-door campaigning as well as phone calls and informational pamphlets. Marquez said it will target 45,000 voters, in Adams, Jefferson, Pueblo, El Paso and Weld counties in the next two months.

Denise Bohemier, chairwoman for La Plata County Democrats, said in Durango and much of Colorado Democrats and Republicans struggle with trying to get voters motivated.

Bohemier said immigration reform could be a push for voters who are checking back in after busy summers.

“Once people start paying attention they tend to become more involved, so immigration may get people registered to vote,” Bohemier said. “It’s finding the issues that will get people mobilized.”

mbowerman@durangoherald.com. Mary Bowerman is a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.