More Immigration Losers
GOP hardliners need to face reality.
Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode's narrow loss to Democrat Tom Perriello became official last week, and it caps another bad showing for immigration restrictionists. For the second straight election, incumbent Republicans who attempted to turn illegal immigration into a wedge issue fared poorly.
Anti-immigration hardliners Randy Graf, John Hostettler and J.D. Hayworth were among the Republicans who lost in 2006. Joining them this year were GOP Representatives Thelma Drake (Virginia), Tom Feeney (Florida), Ric Keller (Florida) and Robin Hayes (North Carolina) -- all Members of a House anti-immigration caucus that focuses on demonizing the undocumented.
According to a review of election results by America's Voice, an advocacy group, Republican restrictionists had especially weak showings in "battleground" races. "Nineteen of 21 winners advocated immigration policies beyond enforcement-only," says the report. "This includes 5 of 5 Senate races and 14 of 16 House races listed in the 'toss-up,' 'leans Republican,' or 'leans Democratic' categories of the Cook Political Report."
Mr. Goode, a 12-year incumbent, had made a name for himself in Congress as a seal-the-border advocate. Among other things, he has called for mass deportations and amending the Constitution to deny U.S. citizenship to children of illegal aliens.
Immigration wasn't a dominant issue this fall, and other factors contributed more to the GOP defeat. But the political reality is that Republicans who thought that channeling Lou Dobbs would save their seats will soon be ex-Members. Meanwhile, exit polls showed that the Republican share of the Hispanic vote fell to 31% this year from more than 40% in 2004. The demographic reality is that the GOP can't win national elections while losing such a large share of the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country.