Correction on the Andy Vidak Election
A while back I wrote about the state senate win in California's 16th District by Republican cherry farmer Andy Vidak. The GOP establishment and others made big news hailing the victory as evidence that Republicans could win in a majority Hispanic district. I then wrote a short piece questioning this, pointing out that Vidak's district had been redistricted and was no longer majority Hispanic. Unfortunately, I was in error -- the new district lines don't take effect until 2014.
Andy Vidak wrote me himself to complain about my piece, and I do apologize to him for my mistake. I probably regret the error as much as anyone, as I'm not the mainstream media and don't like peddling misinformation. There was, however, more to my commentary than just the redistricting claim, and for the rest of it I not only won't apologize -- I'll double-down. But more on that in a moment.
First, Vidak's win was still not some great victory proving that GOP traditionalism plays well among Hispanics. After all, Vidak himself admits that he received only one in four Hispanic votes. So we have to ask: how did he win in a 60 percent Hispanic district?
It appears he benefitted from a mid-summer special election in which no other races were on the ballot, a situation invariably attended by low turnout. And not only do Hispanics tend to turnout in even lower percentages than Anglo voters, but it seems Vidak did a good job turning out his base.
The statistics on the election vindicate this assessment, too. Consider that the 2010 Republican nominee who lost in the 16th actually received more votes than Vidak. Yet while the GOP vote share dropped by only 10 percent relative to 2010, Vidak's Hispanic Democrat opponent saw a decline of 45 percent.
Moreover, I pointed out in my original piece that to win the Hispanic votes he did, Vidak had to sometimes campaign in Spanish and advocate amnesty. I asked him about this, but he never got back to me. Nor did he tell me anything in his original email, except that I was in error and quite possible a "liar." Don't get me wrong, I give him credit for this -- at least he's not as mealy-mouthed as most politicians. Let's just hope he's equally blunt when characterizing Barack Obama and his partners in crime (though I suspect this wouldn't exactly endear him the new GOP Hispanic majority that isn't).
But there's perhaps good reason why Vidak didn't respond to my questions (besides his anger). As The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow wrote in an article titled "Hispanic win: 'California can be Republican again'":
Andy Vidak, who is fluent in Spanish...even cooked menudo, a cow-stomach soup and a Mexican favorite, at a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event at the Bakersfield fairgrounds where 10,000 Hispanics turned out.
He got a big assist from other GOP officeholders and hundreds of Spanish-speaking Republican volunteers going door to door, making pitches in Spanish where necessary in the 60 percent Hispanic district. Mr. Vidak also managed to create a little political daylight from hard-liners in his party on the issue of eventually granting citizenship to illegal immigrants.
Yes, it's the daylight that begets national twilight.
By the way, just so Mr. Vidak doesn't again accuse me of rendering Obamaesque commentary, here's what I omitted from the above passage: "[Vidak] said he captured the state Senate seat in last week's closely watched runoff vote by connecting with Hispanic voters with a "common-sense" approach that focused on job creation, affordable energy and opposition to big government." There you go, well-conned neo-cons: Do all that and promise amnesty, in Spanish, and you also can connect with 25 percent of the Hispanic vote.
But perhaps California state GOP chairman Jim Brulte, the individual Hallow quoted in his title, is right. Maybe the Golden State can be Republican again. All the ex-cons have to do in addition to pushing amnesty and speaking Spanish is embrace the big government most Hispanics want. Don't scoff -- it works for the white ruling class in Mexico.