Hey, Arizona candidates, you can’t court the Latino vote with crumbs

For months, Arizona candidates have largely ignored Spanish-speaking voters – until the last few days when Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Democratic Senate hopeful Kyrsten Sinema or their allies began blasting the airwaves and digital media with Spanish ads.

Nice gesture with the extra cash from these well-financed candidates. But it’s too little too late. Early voting ended Oct. 31.

Yes, some candidates have made overtures in Spanish for months. Democrat David Garcia had a Spanish spot from the kickoff of his campaign to challenge Ducey’s re-election, but it wasn’t blasted on Spanish-language television.

That minimized its impact.

Sinema and Ducey (or independent groups on their behalf) at least have gone all-out in the last few days. But it really does feel like they’re throwing Spanish-speaking voters the crumbs from their mainstream messaging. 

Don’t invest? Don’t get the vote

It’s unfortunate that candidates and their allies want the Latino vote but won’t spend any significant amount and develop a concerted strategy to court their vote – none that can easily be spotted, anyway.  

Political pundits are quick to point out that candidates don’t want to waste their limited resources with a part of the electorate that for years has seen steady voter participation but not enough to make a significant difference.

Fair point.

But how can candidates, the Democratic and Republican parties expect to get their vote – especially in a state where a third of its population is Hispanic – without investing in them?

It’s a catch-22. Don’t invest, don’t get the vote. 

Why Spanish-language ads matter

Spanish-speaking Latinos are like any other voter. They want to be courted. They want to hear directly from the candidates and the parties about the issues that affect their lives.

It’s true that only a handful of Arizona Hispanics are Spanish-speaking only. But messing in Spanish is a matter of respect. It’s about showing cultural sensitivity.

Ducey didn’t forget Spanish speakers (yay!)

I suppose even the crumbs are better than nothing. I’m glad Ducey, who has a comfortable lead over Garcia, and Sinema, who is deadlocked against Republican Martha McSally in the Senate race, have some cash to spare in these final days of the election. Let’s hope this last-minute messaging in Spanish encourages some Latinos to go the polls on Nov. 6.

No candidate should complain if they don’t get the Hispanic vote, however. And Latinos can’t complain, either, if they don’t show up Tuesday at the polls.

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1.

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