The havoc Donald Trump is wreaking on the presidential race is just the beginning of the problems he is poised to cause Republicans in 2016. Already Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric is becoming a flashpoint in the down-the-ballot campaigns. The direction he is pulling his fellow Republicans could put in jeopardy the GOP's majority in the Senate, as some of the cycle's most competitive races are taking place in states with heavy Latino populations.
Of the five states that had the largest share of Hispanic voters in 2012 cycle, Florida, Colorado and Nevada are holding what are expected to be extremely contentious Senate races. And already, some of the candidates in those races have been expected to weigh in on Trump's antics, which involve labeling Mexicans "rapists" and calling for the end of birth citizenship.
GOP Senate candidates are stuck between placating primary voters without completely isolating the Latino voters, who are a quickly growing share of each state's electorate.
That Trump has earned the scorn of Hispanic voters is clear: Two-thirds of Hispanics in a recent Gallup poll viewed Trump unfavorably. Whether his reputation will stick to the Republican Party at large is still up for debate. A Univision survey, for instance, showed that only 14 percent of Hispanic voters believed Trump’s views represented the GOP's. - TPM, 9/1/15
Republicans have more Senate seats to defend and open seat in Florida and Indiana. They have few pick up opportunities this year and those two states are Colorado and Nevada. The race to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) is going to be one of the most competitive races of 2016. Democrats have landed a great candidate in former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D. NV) and Republicans have a strong candidate in Rep. Joe Heck (R. NV). Heck has tried to make himself appear as Center-Right on the ideological scale but his past voting record tells a different story:
Republican Rep. Joe Heck is a prominent U.S. Senate candidate in Nevada, and at first blush, the conservative congressman, running for an open seat, appears to be well positioned. Nevada is a fast-growing swing state with a diverse population, and Heck has previously won with fairly broad support.
But it won’t be easy. Heck voted for a far-right budget plan that tried to scrap Medicare; he’s opposed minimum-wage increases; the GOP candidate is a staunch opponent of reproductive rights; and he’s even condemned Social Security as a pyramid scheme. - MSNBC, 9/2/15
Below are Heck's pyramid scheme remarks:
Cortez Masto has already started attacking Heck on his record. It's still very early and people haven't been paying attention to the race yet but John Ralston has been and can foresee a tough road ahead for Heck:
Just as Trump’s gravitational force is pulling many of his foes to the right on immigration, his incendiary rhetoric also could prove to be an anchor on GOP candidates such as Heck, who previously has boasted of his relatively strong showing among Hispanics.
But running for Congress against embarrassingly inept Democratic challengers is not the same as competing statewide in a nationally watched U.S. Senate race seen by most observers as a toss-up or perhaps leaning slightly toward a woman, ex-Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who would be the first Latina senator in U.S. History.
That last fact is enough to energize segments of Nevada’s Hispanic community, which could make up as much as 20 percent of the electorate come November 2016. So Heck has very little margin for error in trying to do better with that cohort than other recent GOP statewide candidates.
In 2012, Sen. Dean Heller lost the Hispanic vote by 2-to-1 (and coincidentally converted to a post-election immigration reformer) while Mitt Romney was crushed by an even higher margin (President Obama garnered 71 percent).
So Trump’s belligerence on illegal immigrants – “they have to go,” he told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” – poses a clear and present danger to Heck, who will have a difficult time winning the race if Hispanic turnout reaches record levels and he cannot fare better than Romney or Heller.
Heck’s position on illegal immigration actually is somewhat nuanced, although shades of gray have no place in a campaign where caricatures are de rigueur. And the Democrats have plenty of fodder. - Reno Gazette-Journal, 9/1/15
Masto Cortez has already been slamming Trump over his remarks:
“We’ve all heard Donald Trump’s awful comments about Mexican immigrants – they’re so offensive that I won’t repeat them here. And as someone who would be the first Latina to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, I’m especially disgusted,” she wrote in July. “But some extremist Republicans are actually defending Trump’s outrageous remarks! It’s baffling, and it’s flat-out wrong. That kind of hateful speech has no place in our politics.” - TPM, 9/1/15
And Heck is not doing himself any favors:
So far, however, Heck has also been dragged into the Trump mud. At an appearance at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce last week, Heck said ending birthright citizenship “needs to be part of the discussion,” even as he said, “I don’t talk about Donald.” - TPM, 9/1/15
Here's what Heck said:
The race is shaping up under a broader national backdrop, the discussion of immigration reform that has dominated the presidential race. Republican front-runner Donald Trump, for example, has gained widespread attention by calling for the end of the birthright citizenship provision in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That provision gives citizenship to infants born in the U.S. even if their parents are in the country illegally.
Heck was noncommittal about whether birthright citizenship should change.
"I think it needs to be part of the discussion," Heck said. "People want to talk about immigration reform so if we're going to talk about immigration reform, then let's talk about all aspects of immigration reform. Let's come up with a system of immigration that works for Americans. So I think it should be part of the discussion."
Heck said the immigration discussion should include other components such as border security, e-verify and a path to legalization for citizenship.
"Everything that everybody wants to talk about regarding immigration should be on the table so that we can come up with an answer that hopefully will put the question to rest ... about an immigration system that works for everybody," Heck said. - Las Vegas Review Journal, 8/27/15
It's going to be an interesting and intense race for sure. If you would like to donate and get involved with Cortez Masto's campaign, you can do so here: