Colorado’s Latino voters are threatening to pull their support of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in protest of how the state is implementing a new drivers license program for illegal immigrants.
A small group of demonstrators outside the state Democratic Party headquarters on Wednesday protested what participants said were too few resources dedicated to the new program. Organizers said they would tell Latino voters to pull their support from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper if he didn’t promise to make the process easier and more convenient.
If Hispanic voters were to pull their support, it could strike a blow to Hickenlooper’s base. A Quinnipiac University poll in mid-July, cited by the Denver Post, found that about 58 percent of Latino voters support Hickenlooper, while only 31 percent support his challenger, Republican Bob Beauprez.
Latinos make up about 13 percent of all registered voters in Colorado.
Beauprez isn’t likely to pick up many Hickenlooper deserters within this demographic, however. Latino leaders are upset with him over recent comments about immigration he made to a local radio show. He told the host that, if elected, he would try to roll back policies that make Colorado desirable to illegal immigrants, including the drivers license program.
During the same interview, he said he would send Colorado’s National Guard to Texas to defend the border if asked by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (RELATED: Bob Beauprez Would Send Colorado National Guard To Defend The Border)
According to the Post, Wednesday’s protest included some members of Drivers Licenses for All, the group that gathered about 30,000 signatures on petitions supporting the program before it was passed by the legislature last year. But they say it hasn’t been implemented as promised, pointing out in a letter delivered to the state capital that licenses for undocumented citizens are only available at five of the state’s 56 offices.
“We’re here because we know the governor wants the Latino vote,” organizer Patricia Ramirez told the newspaper. “We want more offices open before we give him our vote.”
Doug Schwartz, the director of the Quinnipaic University Poll, told the Denver Post that losing these voters could hurt Hickenlooper.
“It’s important for Hickenlooper in terms of keeping him close,” he said. “If he lost the Hispanic vote, that could really spell danger for him.”
In a statement to the paper, Hickenlooper’s office said the Department of Revenue continues to hold public meetings and workshops to address concerns brought up in the letter and will “continue to monitor the program.”
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