News Column

Lt. Govs. Court Hispanics in NM, Okla.

April 2, 2013

James Coburn, The Edmond Sun, Okla.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has invited New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez to Oklahoma to visit with the state's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Hispanic business leaders in July. They will discuss this week's private enterprise announcement of transforming the former Crossroads Mall into a Hispanic Cultural Center there on south Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City.

Hispanic outreach is important to the state, Lamb told The Edmond Sun.

"I actually met with those developers in my office when they were telling me about their plan for the former Crossroads," Lamb said. "That's not partisan politics. That's economic development."

The meeting will be in conjunction with the Lt. Governor's Conference that Lamb will host in July.

The 1889 Land Run provided a lot of diversity to Oklahoma Territory that has continued into statehood, Lamb said.

He said it is also important to remember that Gov. Mary Fallin is Oklahoma's first female governor. Also, Republican state Rep. Pam Peterson is the state's first female majority floor leader, Lamb said. He also noted that Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon is of American Indian and black ancestry.

Everybody agrees that protecting the U.S. borders is important to national security, Lamb said. National pundits have said Republicans need to expand their base by attracting more Hispanic voters after the re-election of Democrat President Barack Obama.

"Faith, family and hard work, that is something the Republican party talks about quite a bit," Lamb said.

The state of Oklahoma cannot do much on the border of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to stop illegal immigration flowing from Mexico, Lamb said. It is a federal issue, he said.

Lamb and Sanchez took part in an online video discussion sponsored by the Republican Lieutenant Governor's Association. Sanchez was emphatic that the Hispanic culture fits well within the Republican party.

The Republican party has to do a much better job in communicating with Hispanics, Sanchez said. Republicans also must reach out to women and younger people, he said.

"We can talk about those issues, whether it's immigration reform, and that's critical because a lot of Americans want to know that," Sanchez said. Republicans need to talk about how to provide economic opportunity for Hispanics, Sanchez said.

"We can do that without sounding nasty, without sounding mean, changing our tone," Sanchez said.

He said it is unfortunate that some Republicans have been "mean spirited" about some Hispanic families living illegally in the U.S. Conversation to resolve the illegal immigration issue in America should be one that attracts Hispanics.

Sanchez pointed out that the three top elected officials in New Mexico are Republicans. The Republican party is the national home for all Hispanics in the U.S., he said.

"We believe in those conservative values that if you work hard, pay your taxes, do the right thing, here in this great country we call America -- you'll succeed," Sanchez said.

Source: (c)2013 The Edmond Sun (Edmond, Okla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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