A new political ad airing in Nevada is urging Latinos not to vote this year, a particularly brazen message that has drawn criticism from civil-rights groups.
The ad is the brainchild of conservative operative Robert De Posada and produced by Latinos for Reform, a Virginia-based group. It shows several pictures of congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is locked in a difficult reelection battle in Nevada against Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle.
In the ad, a male voice argues that since Democrats have not made any progress on immigration reform, Latinos should not reward them with their votes. The narrator signs off by saying: "Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message: You can no longer take us for granted. Don't vote."
Immigration has been a contentious issue in several states this year, following Arizona's adoption of SB 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to check people's residency status during routine stops. Democrats are worried that Latinos, who voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2008, could stay home this year.
"That kind of message is just detrimental to our democracy," Yvette Williams, chair of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus told the Las Vegas Sun. The television company Univision has refused to air it. A columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal called it "repugnant" and the New York Times editorial board weighed in this morning, writing, "The Republicans' contempt for Hispanic voters, of which this voter suppression is Exhibit A, is mirrored in the way their party exploits immigration rather than fixes it."
De Posada, the man behind the ad, told the Sun he actually supports the Democrats' efforts to reform immigration laws. He says that inflicting losses on Democrats in November will force them to pass legislation in Congress during this year's lame duck session so they can run on that achievement in 2012.
"They're going to do nothing unless this message is sent," DePosada told the paper.
Following the flare-up, DePosada released a second ad with a softer message. Speaking directly to the camera, he says: "This November when you vote, demand respect. Don't just simply give your vote away because it's expected."