By Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, Nov. 19, 2012 issue
But to speak of the “Hispanic population” is an oversimplification, akin to collectively describing the waves of immigrants that arrived in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as European-Americans. In Florida, Cuban-Americans tend to vote for Republicans and Puerto Ricans tend to vote for Democrats. In Texas, the Tejanos have deep roots in the state and tend to be more open to the Republican Party; the more recent immigrants from across the border are known simply as Mexican-Americans, who largely came to the United States after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, when Mexico established a robust welfare state, and are more commonly Democrats.
While Cruz and Canseco embrace a Tea Parry approach to the G.O.P.’s Hispanic problem, elsewhere in Texas a different strategy is being tested. One afternoon, I met with Art Martinez de Vara, the mayor of Von Ormy, a town of thirteen hundred residents, southwest of San Antonio, which dates to the eighteenth century. His ancestors arrived in San Antonio, from colonial Mexico, in the seventeen-nineties [....]
In 2008, Martinez de Vara co-founded the Latino National Republican Coalition of Texas, now called the Texas Federation of Hispanic Republicans. “A lot of people don’t like the word ‘Latino,’ ” he said. “They find it offensive, or too Californian.” The group recruits and supports Hispanics to run at the local level in South Texas. In our conversation, he criticized both Cruz’s and Canseco’s approaches to their campaigns. When I asked whether Cruz’s Latin surname was enough for him to win over Hispanics, one of Martinez de Vara’s friends, Gina Castañeda, a political activist who manages local campaigns, interrupted us. She said, “In the Hispanic or Mexican community, there’s some—” She hesitated. “How can I say it nicely? They don’t like Cubans. Or Puerto Ricans.” Martinez de Vara agreed. “Even within Mexico, they look down upon Caribbean Hispanics,” he said..