On April 20, the day of the first anniversary of SB1070, the harsh and controversial anti-immigrant law, DeeDee García Blasé, the leader of Somos Republicans launched her Tequila Party. In a column in the Voice of Tucson she wrote about her disappointment with current laws and leaders, her frustration with the Obama administration and the surge in deportations and the economic disaster that SB1070 is for Arizona.
“I have been called a RINO (Republican in Name Only) several times because of my stance on immigration,” García Blasé wrote, “yet I know these individuals would have called Ronald Reagan one if he were still alive because he gave amnesty. Dozens of Republican leaders attacked me for being vocal against Republican lawmakers when they embraced harsh anti-immigrant laws. What do they expect? I’m Latina. My people are suffering and it is no different than when Moses pled for mercy with regard to his own Israelites.”
The movement was received with mixed emotions and much disbelief. Much has been said about the stereotypical name and the appeal to just certain populations. However, boiling frustration among Latinos regarding immigration and racial profiling issues may help bring unity and a sense of urgency that will favor a rebel movement that resonates with the Hispanic community as much as the Tea Party has with mainstream America.
Recently, García Blasé went further in her quest to send a message to the GOP. She stepped down from the leadership of Somos Republicans and switched political affiliation.
“The Republicans cannot be anti-immigrant and expect to grow the Latino vote to their benefit. I had it with the Republican Party. I am not doing their work any longer. I’m done. The only way I could go back is if they correct themselves. Right now it’s embarrassing. I feel liberated. I’m switching to the Independent Party to send a message to the GOP,” said García Blasé.
“We cannot afford to stay home. We have to support Obama. He has asked for a grassroots movement, bipartisan support to pass comprehensive immigration reform and we are here to give it to him,” she states. “There are no other options, if we don’t vote for Obama in 2012; we’ll see a Palin as a president. Sarah Palin, for example, endorses Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), the worst anti-immigrant Republican. Is that what we want?”
The National Tequila Party Movement is a national tour of concerts, events, dinners and rallies that will encourage a massive Latino Get Out The Vote. This movement is non-partisan and although is not about tequila, its first sponsor is Tequila Don Abraham. “We like that the name is controversial, it’s helped us out there,” said García Blasé, who also explained that her team has people from different national origins, including recent immigrants. To appeal to Latinos other than the Mexican community, the events will be headlined as Tequila Party/Café con Leche in cities like Miami and New York.
The first rally took place June 4 in Tucson, Arizona, headquarters of the party and ground zero for immigration advocates. About 50 people gathered to hear their leader. “The siesta is over, amigos. Now is time for fiesta,” she said to the small crowd. The Tequila Party’s slogan is “Your shot for Change.”
The man who inspired García Blasé and others to initiate the Tequila Party is Fernando Romero, a long time Democratic Latino activist in the state of Nevada. “He swirled the idea but nothing really came into fruition. As the 2012 Presidential Elections are underway, we decided to launch the Tequila Party Movement on Cinco de Mayo 2011. We reached out to Fernando Romero and told him he was our inspiration, and he is flattered we acknowledge him as our inspiration,” said García Blasé.
“Tequila Party is about motivating Latinos to participate in the early ballot system and to vote in the primary elections as well as the general elections. All are welcome, regardless of Party affiliation. Move over Tea Party people, the Tequila Party Movement is here. This time you won’t see a bunch of “angry at Obama” people in a rally. Nay, this time you will see fiestas, celebration of cultura and a massive Latino Get Out the Vote Drive,” the Tequila Party leader said.
According to a recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center more than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year’s election-a record for a midterm-according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center. Fueled by their rapid population growth, Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006. At the same time, however, the number of Latino non-voters among those who are eligible to vote has also increased. This increase contributed to a decline in the voter turnout rate among Latinos-down from 32.3% in 2006 to 31.2% in 2010.
Latino Decisions, a political blog, estimates that 21.5 million Latino citizen adults will be eligible to vote in November 2012, up from 19.5 million in 2008. If registration rates remain constant, that will leave over 8 million Latino eligible voters who are not registered in 2012.
Tequila Party’s objective is to bring 20 million voters to the next election.
“We need to be better voters. This is why we believe the Tequila Party Tour is a critical movement to work towards a massive 2012 National Latino Get Out the Vote Initiative. We have leaders in place in all high Latino populated states and we are strengthening our ties with all organizations who want to participate in this important crusade,” indicated García Blasé, who has made this her full-time job. She expressed that the difference between her movement and other voter registration organizations is that Tequila Party is creating events with voter registration booths and educating voters.
The leader says that the Tequila Party has more than 50 grassroots leaders throughout the country working to get sponsors to support their Latino Get Out The Vote rallies. She also assures the skeptical that the Tequila Party is not funded by the Republican Party and that is not a ploy to get Latinos to vote Republican.
While she has no political ambitions, García Blasé highlights Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) as a great leader and even a potential presidential candidate she would support in the future. The Tequila Party has requested Gutierrez to be their national spokesperson. He is “considering it.”
“It’s overwhelming, but the tears of the children becoming orphans and of the DREAMers not achieving their dreams, that’s what keeps me up. Those of us who are legal in this country are pissed at the current state of things. We need to push for immigration reform, send a message to Republicans such as Lamar Smith (R-TX) who are now pushing for enforcement only laws, and let them know that we will be there in droves. People are scared of Tea Party, well, here comes the Tequila Party,” finalized García Blasé.
Cities that the Tequila Party tour will visit have been announced but not the dates; and the leadership promises live streaming video of the gatherings. For more, visit http://tequilapartytour.com