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Hispanic GOP group announces N.M. officials

A self-described “center right” Hispanic Republican group announced its two New Mexico state coordinators on Thursday.The Hispanic Leadership Network named Jamie Estrada, a former Bush administration official, and Christopher Saucedo, an Albuquerque attorney, to run the group’s grassroots outreach efforts in the state.

In September, HLN kicked off its efforts in the Southwest by holding a conference in Albuquerque having as keynote speaker Gov. Susana Martinez, one of a group of high-profile Hispanic Republican leaders elected in November 2010 that also includes Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (Fla.), urged those in attendance to “have a conversation” with Latinos in their communities.

National HLN co-chairs, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, were unable to attend but sent videos. Both praised Martinez’s leadership and argued that Democrats had failed Latinos.

Stringent immigration policies enacted by Republican-controlled state governments, as well as rhetoric on the issue that many perceive to be anti-Hispanic, have alienated many Hispanic voters from the GOP.

Lauro Garza, the head of Somos Republicans, a Hispanic GOP group in Texas, recently announced he was leaving the party after presidential candidate Herman Cain said he wanted an electric fence on the border that would kill potential unauthorized migrants, which Garza pointed to as evidence that the party had been “infiltrated by nativist ideas.”

The founders of HLN are hoping that it can reverse the trend of Southwestern Hispanic voters rejecting the GOP. But according to Jose Armas of the Hispanic Link News Service, the HLN conference received a mixed to negative reaction from Latinos in attendance. One particular grievance was that the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company which lobbied in favor of Arizona’s restrictive immigration law S.B. 1070, was a sponsor of the conference.

Here’s video of Gutierrez and Bush addressing the conference:

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