The Magazine

Pete Wilson's Vindication

Proposition 187 has painted Democrats into a corner.

Oct 20, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 06 • By DEBRA J. SAUNDERS
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Shameless pandering to Latinos failed to pay off. Yes, Latino turnout grew, but Latinos didn't behave as a monolith. While Torres and other Democrats thought they owned the Latino vote, only 54 percent of Latinos voted against the recall; only 52 percent voted for Bustamante.

And while newspapers were suggesting that support for Prop. 187 might hurt Schwarzenegger, it was Bustamante who tanked, with a mere 32 percent of the vote in a state that has 44 percent Democratic registration.

Bustamante began the race refusing to distance himself from MEChA, a radical student organization that proposes Latino separation. At the first candidates' debate, when asked if there were a single state benefit that he would deny to illegal immigrants, Bustamante didn't name one. Later, in answer to the same question, Bustamante told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that he would deny illegals the right to vote and passports--that was it.

As pollster Frank Luntz told me at a pre-election press conference for his client Arnold Schwarzenegger, when Davis signed SB 60, "That was the beginning of the end of Cruz Bustamante."

Debra J. Saunders writes a nationally syndicated column for the San Francisco Chronicle.