As more states consider copying Arizona’s harsh anti-immigration law, at least one state’s GOP leaders decided against taking a stance on the measure. The California Republican party did not endorse Arizona’s SB 1070 during its semiannual convention this weekend, despite a push for a vote of support by conservative activists in the state.
The party skipped over a resolution that would have stated the party’s support for SB 1070 and Proposition 187, a 1994 effort to cut public benefits to undocumented immigrants.
But gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has stated opposition to both SB 1070 and Proposition 187, and there was some concern last week that her stance would cause tension for the party. Some party activists accused Whitman last week of trying to block the vote over SB 1070 support. She planned to leave the conference before the vote was to occur.
Some conservative Republicans criticized the party for dropping the resolution, the Los Angeles Times reported:
Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, a conservative Republican who lost to Fiorina in the primary, said that by killing the immigration resolution Whitman and party leaders had picked a fight with their most dedicated activists. Indeed, delegates shouted and argued with each other outside a committee meeting Saturday, after the measure died.
“Don’t ask us to walk precincts but to shut up when we’re at our convention,” said delegate Karen England.
But Barajas said Republicans risked a continued slide if they fail to win over Latinos. About 31% of registered voters in California are Republican, down six points since 1994.
“Unless Republicans do that, we could put up a sign that says, ‘This way to the Whig party.’ ” he said.
Whitman claimed to be “tough as nails” on immigration during her Republican primary, but since softened her tone, in part to attract support from Latino voters in the state. The party’s decision to skip over the vote on SB 1070 and Proposition 187 could indicate they are committed to doing the same.