WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (MCT) — Jesse Gutierrez wants to help Latino voters find their niche in the Grand Old Party. He uses a seven-question survey to peg people as liberal or conservative, believing he will help some Latinos discover they were always meant to be Republicans.
But as the GOP primary season pivots toward the West, careening into the Nevada caucus Saturday, the Reno area activist and former San Francisco Bay Area resident worries Republicans are losing the Latino vote.
“There needs to be a little more outreach, a little more education and a softer approach to immigration,” said Gutierrez, 60, who directs a fledgling conservative network called Nevada Latinos for Prosperity. “The Democrats take them for granted and the Republicans don’t do anything about it,” he said.
Latino voters in the West — from California to New Mexico — are more numerous, more concerned about immigration policy and far less inclined to vote Republican than the Cuban-American voters candidates courted in Miami.
But come November, many experts say the Latino electorate in Nevada and other Western states is critical in deciding the next president. “It’s going to matter the most in the general election. We’re a battleground state, a swing state,” said Ken Fernandez, a professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
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