Dean Heller has been trying real hard lately to massage his image with Hispanic voters in Nevada. He wants Latinos to forget his long record of unfriendly rhetoric, votes against bills like the DREAM Act, and general disregard for the issues that matter most to their community. The latest evidence is a no vote for Mari Carmen Aponte, picked by President Obama to be the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador.
Nevada State Senator Ruben Kihuen, a leader in the Nevada Hispanic community, released a formal statement condemning the vote:
“It’s not surprising that Dean Heller voted against Mari Carmen Aponte, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as a United States Ambassador. While he may attempt to parade around as pro-Hispanic in an election year, Heller has in reality disrespected the Hispanic community time and time again. His opposition to the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform has alienated Latinos in Nevada. And now, he has voted against Ambassador Aponte despite bipartisan support for her confirmation and her unquestionable qualifications for the job. This vote is further proof that Senator Heller doesn’t share the values and priorities of the Nevada Hispanic community.”
Despite Dean Heller’s effort to block her appointment, Aponte was able to secure bi-partisan support and get confirmed as the first Puerto Rican woman U.S. ambassador.
Republican Senator Dean Heller was appointed to the United States Senate by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval after the seat was vacated by former Senator John Ensign. Heller will face his first election bid to the senate against Democrat Shelley Berkley (currently serving Nevada’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives) in November.
Shelley Berkley released her own statement about Heller’s no vote on Mari Carmen Aponte:
“I am deeply disappointed in Senator Dean Heller’s vote against Mari Carmen Aponte, the first Puerto Rican woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to a foreign nation. Ambassador Aponte is an accomplished Hispanic leader and an inspiration to millions. However, given his opposition to the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, his opposition is not surprising.”
“Dean Heller owes Nevada’s Hispanic community an explanation for voting against this highly qualified nominee.”
The experts agree that the Hispanic vote will be a huge deciding factor in this senate race.
Republicans certainly haven’t shown a proclivity to effective Hispanic outreach. Just look at the stock photos of Asians they put on their Latino site.
The question remains, will Latinos come out and vote in the same numbers as before? That’s where the efforts of organizers and activists alike will make a big difference in 2012. Latinos should certainly be a primary focus of those efforts.
Justin is the publisher The Nevada View, which has earned the recognition in the Washington Post’s “Best State-Based Political Blogs,” as well as being awarded the “Most Valuable Blogger Award” by the local CBS affiliate in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @McAffee