Rick Perry’s Natural Appeal with Latino Voters: Education and jobs

T at Arlingto nBy Alex Gonzalez

TexasEducation_jpg_800x1000_q100If in fact Gov. Rick Perry enters the GOP race for president, he will have a lot to say to woo Latino voters. Rick Perry will have an opportunity to talk to Latino voters nationwide about his successful executive record in Texas on education, jobs and “border security.”

On education, for two years, Texas has had the second highest high school graduation in the nation and number one among Hispanic/Latino students. The most recent 2013-14 report by  the National Center for Education Statistics underscores that that Texas continues to outpace the national average in high school graduation rates and “Among black students, 84 percent graduated high school within four years, compared with 85 percent of Hispanics.”

Rick Perry is also a strong supporter of Higher Education legislations that have helped Latinos in Texas, such as the Top Ten Percent, Bachelor Degrees for $10,000 and the new UT research campus in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), and his support for the so-called Texas Dream Act. All these are kitchen table issues that Latino voters, especial parents, know about.

As a result, among the potential Republican presidential contenders for 2016, no other candidates has this impressive executive management record on education in a big state. The other possible contender, with similar executive management experience perhaps equal to that of Perry’s is Jeb Bush who was governor of Florida for eight years and made education his top priority.

But Rick Perry would be the only candidate with a governing conservative plan for the nation, the Texas Red State model. The Texas Model, which Perry created, has kept Texas with lowest unemployment numbers in the nation, more business creation, and job growth during the recession on 2008-09.

For example, Texas has the fastest annualized job growth rate (3.3%), the lowest unemployment rate (5.1%), the highest share of the population employed (61.8%), and the highest labor force participation rate (65.1%). Texas’ unemployment rate has been at or below the national average for 90 consecutive months (7 and ½ years) and for 95 consecutive months compared with California, for example. Currently, the official unemployment in Texas is 4.6%; and this is an impressive record to show to Latino voters in Texas, and nationwide, in swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida – states with big Latino voting blocs.

121914 State Jobs Texas pic2In addition, Rick Perry has consistently supported “Dreamers” because, in his view as Governor, these are future taxpayers. Additionally, Perry has worked with Republicans, and Democrats, in the legislature to craft these educational policies. So unlike other possible presidential candidates like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and now Marco Rubio, Rick Perry has the track record of helping Latinos in Texas. Rick Perry has a strong record of supporting Dreamers in Texas and “securing the border” while Cruz has become the chief Dreamer Deporter-in-chief, and Rand Paul has said that in-state-tuition  in Texas is a “magnet ” for illegal immigration. Therefore, Perry would be a natural attraction for Latino voters whose main issues are education, jobs and “border security.”

Poll after poll consistently have showed that education, jobs, and immigration are among the most pressing issues for Latinos. Thus, for Rick Perry it will be chance to promote his policy achievements while Ted Cruz have nothing to show in policy formulation of those issues other than his opposition to Deferred Action for minors (DACA) and the Senate Immigration Bill S.744.

And this GOP primary will be very politically charged with rhetoric- little policy substance –  Ted Cruz most likely will accuse Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle as “crony capitalism” to diminish his successful record as strong governor. For example, Rick Perry strongly supports The Export-Import Bank but while Ted Cruz has voiced vociferous opposition to it, albeit Texas Businesses support this bill.

But despite any attacks from Cruz, overall Rick Perry should perform well with Hispanics due to his executive record as governor since poll after poll consistently have shown that education, Jobs, and immigration are among the most pressing issues for Latinos.

Thus, for Rick Perry this presidential race will be a chance to promote his policy achievements on education and jobs, while Cruz will nothing to show in policy formulation of those issues other than his opposition to Deferred Action for minors (DACA) and the Senate Immigration Bill S.744.

And regardless of “border security” rhetoric myths v. facts, the reality is that border security is a “perceived” issue that even Latino in south Texas feel strong about, especially Republican Latinos. Polls have showed that:

Border security and immigration have ranked as the top “perceived” problems facing the state for several polls in a row…This is particularly true of Texans who identify as Republican, and likely has been reinforced by political candidates who have made border security and illegal immigration centerpieces of their political campaigns during the 2014 campaign.”

And while some Latino democrats in Texas may see Rick Perry’s order last years to deploy the National Guard to “secure the border” as a political move, the fact is that Latinos in south Texas do see “border security” as an important element of any immigration bill, as polls have showed consistently.

As a result,  Rick Perry will have an opportunity to explain Latino voters that, albeit that he does not believe in mass deportation or harassing Dreamers like Ted Cruz does, he believes in a “secure border” where all residents in Texas should be safe, especially in largely populated areas where Latinos are more than 60 percent of the population.

Alex Gonzalez  is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. comments at vote@latinosreadytovote.com




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