In an effort to increase Latino voter participation in 2012, a national movement formally kicks off its national tour in Tucson tonight — the Tequila Party.
Makes sense that Baja Arizona gets to host the first of a national tour. But if you need a reason to celebrate the Tequila Party, think about Citizens for a Better Arizona's recent success in gathering more than 18,300 signatures to recall State Senate Peesident Russell Pearce.
The bipartisan Citizens for a Better Arizona, co-founded by Randy Parraz, filed the signatures late last month with the Arizona Secretary of State's office. Only 7,756 signatures are needed. If enough signatures are verified, it looks like Pearce could be up for re-election in November or March.
Head over to La Cocina (201 N. Court Ave.) tonight. Mariachi Luz de Luna starts the show at 6 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. national Tequila Party leader DeeDee Garcia Blase and State Sen Steve Gallardo will speak. Also on schedule is Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, Three Sonorans' David Abie Morales and Cuban music from Duo Libre.
From the Tequila Party website:
In the short future we will be letting you know which artists will be performing in the 28 cities we are visiting in 20 states across the nation.
There will be heavy concentration with regard to concerts being held before 2012 primary election day for each state. We will kick off our first tour in the State of Arizona which is recognized as Immigration Ground Zero.
We will also ensure our tour includes the State of Georgia because they recently signed an Arizona-style harsh anti-immigrant law. Carlos Santana played for the Atlanta Braves and was booed for his immigration remarks. We applaud Carlos Santana for speaking on behalf of the immigrants who are often demonized.
The Tequila Party was featured in this recent report on CNN:
National Tequila Party leader Belinda "Deedee" Garcia-Blase told CNN that the movement "is a platform for us to position ourselves as consistent voters."
"This is not a movement in place to endorse any politician whatsoever," she said in a phone interview from Tucson, Arizona, where the movement is based. "We're not going to bash politicians like the Tea Party does. This is about voting and why we're in the situation we're in."
The goal is to influence the 2012 elections, Garcia-Blase said. The group is now in the final stages of organizing a national tour of concerts, events, dinners and rallies in 20 states that will "encourage a massive Latino 'Get Out The Vote,'" she said. The kickoff event is June 4 in Tucson, Arizona. ...
Garcia-Blase is also head of Somos Republican (We Are Republican), the largest Hispanic GOP group in the nation. She says the genesis of the Tequila Party grew out of frustration with the Obama administration's failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform and legislation including the DREAM Act, Garcia-Blase says. But she is quick to clarify the movement is not "anti-Obama, but pro-social justice."
The DREAM — Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — Act would offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. In December, it failed to pass the Senate during a lame-duck session of Congress.
"The immigration issue is the number-one concern to Latinos right now," Garcia-Blase says. "We've witnessed over 800,000 Latinos get deported. We've heard the cries and the pain and the suffering from families who are being forced apart. Now is a time for us to become better voters."
Garcia-Blase concedes the idea for the Tequila Party was not originally hers. She credits Fernando Romero as being the inspiration behind the movement. Romero is president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics.
"The movement is important because it unites efforts from the two major parties and others who want to get involved on issues that their party is not dealing with or their party may be in disapproval of," Romero told CNN from his office in Las Vegas. "This is a collective resolution for the Hispanic community. To this moment I have not received any negative feedback."
Romero first got involved in politics more than 30 years ago as a volunteer for now-Sen. Harry Reid's campaign for lieutenant governor of Nevada.
"The principle thing for the Tequila Party movement is border education," Romero said. "Everything else will come through once we accomplish a good community empowerment movement that will allow us to be as effective as we can. The challenges may be that non-Hispanics may try to make an issue of this as a third-party movement. That's a misinterpretation of what we're trying to accomplish." ...
Garcia-Blase, a sixth generation Mexican-American whose parents worked in the potato fields of Idaho when she was a child, says that for now, 100% of her focus is on the pro-Latino movement.
The pro-immigration reform advocate says she plans on changing her political affiliation to independent so that she can be taken seriously by critics as a legitimate social leader.
"I used to be a rah-rah Republican. To heck with that," Garcia-Blase said. "This isn't about politics. It's about people. I've always maintained I'm a real Republican, but I've been called names because I defend my community and put people before party. I still get attacked for that."