Fired up by a combination of high-profile Latino candidates in this year’s election and anti-immigration efforts such as the state law known as SB 1070, young Latinos in Arizona have taken on the challenge of ensuring a large turnout by Hispanic voters on November 6.
Fi2W contributor Valeria Fernandez in Phoenix came on the podcast to talk about the political activism that is likely to benefit Democratic candidates this year and could eventually turn Arizona into a purple state.
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Outrage over Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s crackdowns on undocumented workers has spurred an energetic grassroots movement to oust him. Called “Adios Arpaio” or “goodbye Arpaio,” the movement has attracted hundreds of young people to knock on doors and register new voters.
According to Fernandez, many of the youth who started out by protesting the SB 1070 law have now transformed their activism into “greater civic engagement to provoke change.”
Team Awesome began as a group of young people in Phoenix going door-to-door to register voters on behalf of Daniel Valenzuela, a Latino candidate for the Phoenix City Council. Following Valenzuela’s election last year the group has gone statewide, increasing its membership and backing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona, who is in a tight race against the Republican candidate Congressman Jeff Flake.
Carmona supports the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. If elected he would be the first Latino senator to represent Arizona. However enthusiasm for Carmona could be offset by support for Flake among Arizona’s large Mormon population. Flake, like GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is Mormon. Fernandez says their campaigns have energized Mormons around the state.
According to Fernandez young Latino activists are the leading edge of a demographic shift that promises to change Arizona politics over the next couple of decades. It’s predicted that by 2030 one third of Arizona voters will be Latino. However it remains to be seen if Latinos, who historically have voted at lower levels than whites and African Americans, will vote in greater numbers in the future.