Immigration and the 2008 Republican Defeat

Bay Buchanan, Marcus Epstien, Peter Brimelow, and Jim Pinkerton met to discuss the importance of immigration control for the future of the GOP on January 29. The New York Times made it the focus of their Sunday editorial without even attending! Pictures and Details Here

The New York Times Smears The Report in their Sunday Lead Editorial

Pat Buchanan Responds

Bay Buchanan Responds on O'Reilly Factor [youtube]

Marcus Epstein Responds

A Comprehensive Analysis of All House Losses

by Marcus Epstein

Download in PDF

Study Highlights:

  • In the 26 House of Representatives seats lost by the Republicans, only one race featured a Republican who supported tough border security and a Democrat who supported amnesty.
  • Some victorious Democrats successfully campaigned to the Right of their Republican opponents on illegal immigration.
  • Candidates from both parties who expressed support for amnesty in the past, avoided and downplayed their record.
  • Immigration control could be the issue to bring the GOP back into the majority.

Did “Immigrant Bashing” Fail?

One of the most common logical fallacies is cum hoc, ergo propter hoc, or literally “with this therefore because of this.” Arguing that because many Republicans who opposed amnesty lost the election, therefore opposing amnesty cost Republicans elections would be a perfect example. In an election when 14 of 19 defeated incumbents and all 12 open seats lost were Republicans, proponents of any issue that Republicans tend to support are more likely to lose an election, but correlation does not imply causality.

Propter hoc fallacies are misinterpretations of facts, but they still rely on facts. The rhetoric used by open borders advocates following the 2008 Republican losses is based not only faulty logic, but on pure fiction. Their ‘logic’ is, “with that, therefore because of this.”

No sooner had the ballots been counted did the spin begin. The left wing Center for Community Change gloated, “The tired politics of immigrant bashing once again failed.”

The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “Republicans who thought that channeling Lou Dobbs would save their seats will soon be ex-Members.” Pro Immigration group, America’s Voice published a study, “Republicans: Fenced In By Immigration,” which claimed that in 14 of 16 competitive races, “pro-reform” candidates defeated “hardliners,” and concluded,
Swing voters chose Democrats overwhelmingly, including many candidates that stood up for a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform than their hard-line opponents. Latino voters turned out in record numbers and fled the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republican Party in droves. Their participation in the 2008 elections contributed to Senator Obama’s wins in key battleground states like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida, and also helped Democrats win contested House and Senate races in these states and more.

Echoing the study, Linda Chavez wrote,
Some conservative Republicans, on the other hand, are either in denial or think they can control the problem by limiting the growth in the Hispanic immigrant population. (Just ask the 14 out of 16 hard-line, anti-immigration Republicans who lost their seats this time around to pro-comprehensive reform Democrats how well this worked at the polls.)
If these facts were true, the obvious electoral strategy for the Republicans would be to abandon border security and instead pander to pro-amnesty Hispanic “swing voters.”

But reality paints a very different picture than the artists at the Wall Street Journal. Even if some Republicans were unsuccessful at “channeling Lou Dobbs,” Democrats managed to do so quite well. In fact, Slate’s Jacob Weissberg came up with a new buzzword when asserting it was “the Lou Dobbs Democrats who won the [2006] election.”

One of these “comprehensive reform Democrats” touted by the amnesty lobby is Larry Kissel whose campaign sent an e-mail stating,
"As for immigration Larry's position is more conservative the [sic] Congressman Hayes. Mr. Hayes supports the President's amnesty plan and protection of businesses that employ illegals. Larry…believes that we have to secure our borders, deport illegal’s… that illegal aliens are just that-- illegal and to offer amnesty is to penalize the law abiding people waiting patiently and following the rules…."

What about the Republicans? Is it true, as Chavez asserts, that it is only in the wake of the 2008 elections that “Republicans are finally worried that their failure to attract Hispanic voters in this year's election spells trouble?”

This is the same party who distributed “Estamos Unidos Con McCain” signs at the Republican Convention but wouldn’t let attendees hold ones that said “Build the Fence.” It is the same party who made Mel Martinez chairman of the Republican National Committee following their rout in 2006 and then gave his first press conference in Spanish. The party led for the last eight years by George Bush who appointed the first Hispanic Attorney General, attempted to force amnesty through Congress on numerous occasions, and whose political strategist Karl Rove explicitly rebuked the successful “Southern Strategy” for the “Hispanic Strategy.” The same Republican Party whose presidential candidate John McCain spoke before every single Hispanic ethnic lobby group to promise “comprehensive immigration reform” and then ran ads in Spanish language TV blaming the Democrats for “no camino a ciudadanía.” [path to citizenship.]

Who are these Republican “hardliners” who lost? According to America’s Voice, Christopher Shays and Randy Kuhl who had F- scores on amnesty from immigration reduction group Numbers USA qualify.

The scope of the report is modest. It does not analyze how every issue affected the election or how various demographic groups voted. Instead it merely reports what the candidates themselves said about the issue of immigration.

This is not rocket science, and the findings are clear: The claim that voters rejected anti-immigration “hardliner” Republicans in favor of comprehensive immigration reform Democrats is simply untrue.

Analysis of 2008 Republican House Losses

Purported Positions of the Candidates

Both Candidates Supported Enforcement


Both Candidates Supported Amnesty


One or Both Candidates Successfully Avoided Issue


Democrat Supported Amnesty, Republican Supported Enforcement


Democrat Supported Enforcement, Republican Supported Amnesty


A note about methodology:

When it is stated that a candidate avoided immigration, in most cases this means that immigration was not mentioned on the candidates' platform, and that a reasonably thorough scan of the campaign news showed little or no mention of anything substantial on immigration. This does not mean, of course, that the candidate never mentioned immigration, but if information is that scantily available, it is a fair assumption that it was a very marginal issue in the campaign.

In some of these cases where information was only found on one candidate, it was the Republican who supported amnesty, or Democrat who supported enforcement. Secondly, when stating that both candidates supported amnesty or opposed it, this is not to state that they have identical positions. In cases where there are nuances between the two candidates, as much detail as possible is given to those differences.

Finally, as the main purpose of this report is to challenge the conventional wisdom that in losing races the Republicans was a hardliner and the Democrat supported comprehensive immigration reform, more details are given to Republicans who supported amnesty and Democrats who supported enforcement. The reasons for this is not to procrusteanly ignore inconvenient facts, but to concede them. In a study of 27 races, there needs to be some abbreviation and generalizations. While this report may be imperfect, it is still far more thorough-and for that matter forthright about its shortcomings-than the America's Voices' report and other writings of amnesty advocates.

Races Where Both Candidates Supported Enforcement

AL 2: Jay Love (R) vs. Bobby Bright (D)
In the fight for Terry Everett’s Seat, Montgomery mayor Bobby Bright edged out State Senator Jay Love by 4 percent. In this race, both candidates claimed to support tough stances. Love gave the pro-enforcement answer to all but one of Numbers USA’s candidate questionnaire. Although Bright had once said, "If you're illegal, you need to get legal ... and we'll help you in whatever way we possibly we can. We'll even help you find a job,” he went out of his way to cover his tracks. His platform stated, “We must get our borders under control and fix our broken immigration system… I would never support amnesty for illegal immigrants... In Congress, I will fight to secure our borders and make sure that workforce laws are enforced and benefits are not received by anyone in our country illegally.” [emphasis in original]

Colorado 4: Betsey Markey (D) vs. Marilyn Musgrave (R)

Three term incumbent Marilyn Musgrave was unseated by senior Ken Salazar Staffer Betsey Markey by a healthy 12 point margin. Despite a tough voting record on immigration, Musgrave did not mention it in her platform or in her website. Markey did not call for any legalization of illegal immigrants, and her platform stated, “I do not support amnesty…I support increased funding for border security efforts,” and that we “need strong and workable employer verification programs to equip employers with the means to verify the status of their employees.”

This is not to say that Markey posed as a restrictionist. She spoke out against “inflammatory rhetoric” and said there needed to be an expanded visa system for agriculture. However it should be noted that Musgrave shared this view and co-sponsored the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2007” that would have tripled H-2B visas.

Immigration was not a major factor in this election. Aside from issues such as the economy and the War in Iraq that were pervasive across the country, the main contentious issues were Musgrave’s stance on the environment, abortion, and gay marriage that brought millions of dollars from out of state into the race.

Idaho 1: Bill Sali (R) vs. Walt Minnick (D)

First term incumbent Sali was upset by businessman Walt Minnick by a thin margin. Minnick focused on Sali’s personal financial scandals and position on Veterans issues. Sali is a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus and had a reasonably strong record against amnesty and made this tough stance on immigration part of his platform.

Minnick attempted to avoid immigration and did not put it on his platform. He had made some statements in favor of a path to citizenship, but when an organization called the “Club for Truth” accused Minnick of being soft on illegal immigration, his spokesman responded “Walt’s position on immigration has been consistent from the beginning, and it’s that we need to secure the borders, send troops to the borders if necessary. Everyone who’s failed a background check needs to be deported immediately, the remainder needs to pay a fine and move to the back of the line for legal immigration.”

Maryland 1: Andy Harris (R) vs. Frank Kravotil (D)
After physician Andy Harris defeated Wayne Gilcrest in the Republican Primary he was edged out by State Attorney Frank Kratovil by less than 1%. Harris made immigration a major part of his case against Gilcrest in the primary and continued his tough stance in the general. Kratovil was emphatic in his opposition to amnesty and increased enforcement stating, “any discussion of illegal immigration needs to begin with an unwavering commitment to enforce the laws we have on the books and not reward illegal behavior.”
Michigan 7: Tim Walberg (R) vs. Mark Schauer (D)

First Term incumbent Tim Walberg was narrowly defeated by Michigan State Rep Mark Schauer. Walberg has an average voting record on immigration with a B- from Numbers USA , but tried to make immigration an issue in the campaign by accusing Schauer of giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens and not making English the official language. He included the former as one of the many liberal votes he accused Schauer of making in an ad comparing him to Michael Moore.

Schauer tried to avoid immigration as an issue and did not put it on his website. However, following Walberg’s attack, he hit back with a press release WALBERG KEEPS UP LIES ABOUT SCHAUER IN NEW AD: Schauer voted against driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and sponsored bills to stop companies from hiring undocumented workers” He then tied Walberg to George Bush’s liberal immigration policy, “The Bush Administration, which Walberg has supported wholeheartedly, has turned a blind eye to companies breaking the rules and giving our jobs to illegal immigrants. In fact, the enforcement of immigration laws is down 30 percent from the previous administration.”

Michigan 9: Gary Peters (D) vs. Joe Knollenberg (R)

Democratic State Senator Gary Peters defeated Nine term incumbent Joe Knollenberg by a 9 point margin. Most observers attributed the defeat in this Detroit Suburb to high liberal and black turnout due to Barack Obama who carried the district by fifteen points.

Knollenberg had a liberal voting record on immigration with C- rating from Numbers USA and a D for amnesty. He did not include immigration in his platform. As Peters’ victory seemed inevitable, Knollenberg ran ads accusing Peters of supporting a bill that would give healthcare to illegals. Peters responded by stating that he never supported it, and restated that he opposed “proposals that would provide health care coverage to illegal immigrants.”

New Jersey 1: Chris Myers (R) vs. John Adler (D)
State Senator John Adler beat Medford Mayor Chris Myers by 3%. Myers did not make immigration an issue in his campaign, but stated that he supported increased technology on the border rather than a “Wall.” Though his campaign avoided immigration, the 501(c)4 group Freedom Watch made robo calls that accused Adler of supporting amnesty. Adler denied these claims citing that he had a “solid record” on amnesty. Adler’s platform states that “John does not support amnesty nor does he support giving benefits that hardworking American citizens receive to illegal immigrants.” He called for increased enforcement of employer sanction laws which he criticized the Bush administration for not enforcing, and called for “additional resources to enhance border security and monitoring activities.”

North Carolina 8: Robin Hayes (R) vs. Larry Kissel (D)

In a rematch of the 2006 race, five term incumbent Robin Hayes lost to social studies teacher Larry Kissel. Hayes had one of the strongest anti-immigration positions in Congress, though he did not make immigration a huge issue on the campaign. Kissel responded to Numbers USA’s questionnaire with a restrictionist answer to all but one question. Kissel’s campaign manager was even stronger, sending an e-mail to supporters;

"As for immigration Larry's position is more conservative the [sic] Congressman Hayes. Mr. Hayes supports the President's amnesty plan and protection of businesses that employ illegal’s. Larry says our immigration policy should be based in sound public policy not hate, which said, he believes that we have to secure our borders, deport illegals, prosecute those that bring them over the border and hold employers responsible that employ them. Larry believes that illegal aliens are just that-- illegal and to offer amnesty is to penalize the law abiding people waiting patiently and following the rules to be able to pursue [sic] the American Dream."

OH 16: Kirk Schuring (R) vs. John Boccieri (D)
In the race to replace Ralph Regula, State Senator John Boccieri beat fellow State Senator Kirk Schuring by 11 points. Boccieri did not have immigration listed on his platform, but he introduced an amendment to a state level immigration bill that would crack down on employers during the campaign and stated, "More and more states across the country are adopting similar pieces of legislation. Just as we hold individuals who break the law accountable, we can no longer afford to ignore punishment for those businesses who also engage in illegal activities. It is not fair to law abiding businesses. It is not fair to our workers. And is it not fair to the taxpayers in this state to allow this practice to go unchecked any longer.” Schuring touted his support for the same bill, and wrote in his platform, “In Congress, Kirk will fight to pass immigration laws that will secure our borders. He will oppose any plan to offer amnesty for illegal immigrants, while fully supporting ways to make legal immigration open and expedient for all those who want to become Americans by properly following the laws making it possible for them to do so.”
Virginia 5: Virgil Goode (R) vs. Tom Perriello (D).
After several recounts, social activist Tom Perriello was given a 727 vote margin over six term incumbent Virgil Goode. Goode was one of the most vocal and consistent opponents of illegal immigration in Congress and made it a campaign issue. Perriello generally tried to avoid the issue, and did not include it on his platform. In a profile of Perriello, The Charlottesville Daily Progress summarized his response to their questions on immigration as such: “States is a nation of laws that must be respected. The most effective strategy for tackling illegal immigration, he says, is to cut off the supply of jobs by holding employers accountable.”
Virginia 2: Thelma Drake (R) vs. Glenn Nye (D)
Foreign Service Officer Glenn Nye defeated two term incumbent Thema Drake by 5 points. Drake was a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, and made illegal immigration a major priority in her campaign. Nye did not mention it in his platform, and was accused of dodging the issue in debates. When pressed, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, “Both candidates opposed amnesty for people in the country illegally, calling it unfair to people who follow the rules.”

Races Where Both Candidates Supported Amnesty:

AZ 1: Sidney Hay (R) vs. Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
In the battle for departing Congressman Rick Renzi’s seat, Democratic State Rep Ann Kirkpatrick beat Republican businesswoman Sidney Hay by 16%. Both candidates said they supported building a fence. Hay, however said that the reason for the Fence was the only way that “our fellow Americans will support the development of a new worker permit system.” And that there is “a very real need for workers in specific industries in Arizona, and we must always be cognizant of that” in “developing a market-based approach to deal with the labor needs of our nation.”
Unlike Hay, Kirkpatrick’s platform called for cracking down on employers, and showcased her support for Arizona’s tough Legal Arizona Workers Act. She did, however, support some level of “comprehensive immigration reform” stating, “Illegal immigrants seeking to earn legal status should be required to have employment, learn English, pay a fine, and go to the back of the line. However, those who have committed crimes in America should be deported.”

Connecticut 4: Jim Himes (D) vs. Christopher Shays (R)

Eleven term liberal Republican Christopher Shays was edged out 51-49% by businessman Jim Himes. Shays has a F lifetime voting record from Numbers USA. His loss was almost universally attributed to ideological-demographic changes where Northeastern liberal Republicans who once controlled the GOP are coming to extinction. Shays blamed GOP losses on the “far right” who “hijacked the party.”

Shays did not shy away from his pro-legalization stance. He told the New York Times that the only reason he no longer endorsed a full “pathway to citizenship” was public opinion, “there is not enough support from American people for that." He immediately qualified this with his claim that deportations "would create chaos" and "divide the country." Shays supported a “blue card” program that would give illegals indefinite legal status with no direct path to citizenship.

Himes made clear he supported increased border security and enforcement against employers, but he also wanted to “encourage undocumented workers to come out of the shadows is to offer an earned path to citizenship,” at the “back of the line” after paying a “meaningful penalty” for breaking the law. Himes criticized Shays plan for “no penalty on people who came here illegally, but create a permanent immigrant worker underclass who would forever be denied the hope of citizenship.”

Nevada 3: Jon Porter (R) vs. Dana Titus (D)

State Senator Dana Titus defeated three term term incumbent Jon Porter by a 5 point margin. Porter did not put immigration on his platform, though he included an interview he gave with In Business Las Vegas where he said, “We need to secure the borders, but I support a temporary guest workers’ program.” In 2006, Porter had said “I support looking at options at some point for the 12 million people living in the shadows.”

Similarly, Titus had been vocally in favor of amnesty in 2006, but since remained silent. According to the pro-amnesty America’s Voice, “Although her current campaign website lists no immigration position, Titus was vocal on the issue during the 2006 governor’s race. Titus said then that undocumented immigrants should apply for a program that allows them to become citizens after waiting many years and clearing hurdles such as paying fines and back taxes.” In her unsuccessful bid, her victorious opponent Jim Gibbons sharply criticized her support of the 2006 Senate Immigration Bill.

New Mexico 1: Darren White (R) vs. Heather Wilson (D)
In a seat vacated by Heather Wilson when she chose to run for Senate, former Ablerquerque city council president Martin Heinrich defeated Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White by 11 points. According to the New Mexico Business Journal, “White decried what he called mean-spirited rhetoric that has accompanied the immigration debate and said the majority of undocumented immigrants are coming here to feed their families. He supports a guest worker program after the border has been secured.”
Heinrich website does not have an immigration platform, but he posted an endorsement that states, “When it comes to immigration, he believes in securing the border with personnel instead of "a monument to a political ideology;" holding employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers; and he'd like to sort out NAFTA to be easier on northern Mexico ranchers and farmers.”
New Mexico 2: Ed Tinsley (R) vs. Harry Teague (D)
Republicans: With a three million dollar fundraising edge, County Commissioner Harry Teague defeated Restaurant Owner Ed Tinsley by 12 points. Teague favored a liberal immigration policy. His platform called for a “pathway to citizenship” for illegal immigrants who “learn English, pay back taxes, pass background checks, and pay a fine.” Tinsley’s platform stated he supported “comprehensive immigration reform” and he told the Albuquerque Journal, “I support a guest worker program that allows people to come to this country legally to work if conditions are met assuring accountability between employer/employee. An initiative, not including citizenship, must be implemented to encourage illegal immigrants working here to come forward to become part of a legal work force.”

New York 25: Dale Sweetland (R) vs. Dan Maffei (D)

Former Congressional Staffer Dan Maffei beat dairy farmer Dale Sweetland by 13 points. This seat was considered one of the Democrats easiest takeovers, and Maffei almost ran unopposed in the general election. Neither candidate had an immigration section on their platform, but Maffei issued a press release against then Governor Eliot Spitzer’s decision to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants calling it “a matter of national security.” According to the Syracuse Post Standard; “Maffei said the United States should not offer blanket amnesty to undocumented immigrants, but should combat the problem by prosecuting business owners who knowingly hire illegal workers. If the United States arrested employers who violate laws to cut costs, there would be fewer jobs for illegal workers and some would leave the United States,” but he still supported a guest worker proposal so that "No farmer or small-business owner should have to choose between keeping their business open and breaking the law."

Sweetland too claimed to oppose amnesty, but also said there needed to be a guest worker program. He also claimed to oppose on any effort to crack down on employers stating, “don’t think it is the employer who needs to make sure [workers are legal.] It's the government that needs to make sure,"

New York 29: Randy Kuhl (R) vs. Eric Massa (D)

Former Naval Officer Eric Massa beat two term incumbent Randy Kuhl by a narrow margin. Kuhl had a liberal voting record on immigration with a F- Amnesty voting record from Numbers USA. Kuhl did not include immigration on his platform.

Massa had an elaborate immigration plank on his platform that focused on indirect issues such as trade laws with Latin America. It called for increasing border security and prosecuting employers; though it also called for “pathway to citizenship” instead of “Rush Limbaugh fear mongering”

Races Immigration was not an Issue for one or Both Candidates

Florida 8: Alan Grayson (D) vs. Ric Keller (R)

Lawyer and political novice Alan Grayson defeated four term incumbent Ric Keller by a four point margin. Keller had a moderately tough immigration record. He was a member of the Immigration reform Caucus and usually voted against amnesty, though he had a soft record on foreign workers. Most observers put two factors behind Keller’s defeat: his violation of his Term Limits pledge and his difficult primary challenger Todd Long who attacked Keller for being too soft on immigration.

Though Keller made immigration a major issue during his successful 2006 reelection bid, he did not even put it on his website this election cycle. His opponent Alan Grayson made no mention of it on his website either.

Florida 11: Tom Feeney (R) vs. Suzanne Kosmas (D)

In the largest defeat of a Republican incumbent, former State Rep. Suzanne Kosmas beat scandal-ridden Tom Feeney by 16 points. Feeney made immigration control part of his campaign, and his platform touted his opposition to amnesty and co-sponsorship of the SAVE Act.

Kosmas managed to avoid the issue by focusing on Feeney’s ethics problems. Her platform made no mention of immigration, and organizations that looked for her immigration stance found nothing.

Illinois 11: Marty Ozinga (R) vs. Deborah Haverson (D)

Illinois State House of Representatives Speaker Deborah Halverson beat businessman Marty Orzinga in a 25% landslide for Jerry Weller’s seat. The initial Republican candidate Tim Balderman dropped out abruptly, making it near impossible for the GOP to win the seat. Neither candidate mentioned immigration and made few statements on the issue.
New York 13: Steve Harrison (R) vs. Mike McMahon (D)

This race was never competitive because incumbent Vince Fossella dropped out of the race shortly before the election following a drunken driving arrest and revelations that he fathered an illegitimate child.

That said, Mike McMahon did not include immigration on his website or platform. Steve Harrison called for a path to citizenship, "On a practical level, we will never send back the fifteen million illegal workers who are already here, working and contributing to our economy...The most humane, fiscally sound and all-around best solution is to assimilate them into the family of America through some path to citizenship and to get serious about border security now."

Ohio 15: Steve Stiver (R) vs. Mary Jo Kilroy (D)

After a number of recounts County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy edged out State Senator Steve Stiver by 2,311 votes. Neither candidate had immigration mentioned on their platform, and there are scant mention of it in any article. However when asked about the issue in 2006, she rejected amnesty and said, “We need to start by enforcing the laws we already have on the books, which have been neglected under the Bush administration. The goals of real immigration reform must include enforcing laws on the books against employers, in addition to securing our borders.”

Virginia 11: Keith Fimian (R) vs. Gerry Conolly (D)
In the race to replace Tom Davis, Gerry Conolly defeated businessman Keith Fimian. As the head of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, Conolly had denounced the actions made against illegal immigration in neighboring Loudon and Prince William Counties. However, he ran away from this position during the campaign. His platform made no mention on immigration. When asked about the Prince William County position in the debate, he stressed the enforcement that already existed in Fairfax County. According to an interview with the Fairfax Chronicle,
On immigration, Connolly said that securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants must be a top priority of the next Congress; however, enforcement is only part of the solution. He said, “As a local government official, I’ve had to deal with the effects of our failed federal immigration system. That system is broken from top to bottom and needs wholesale reform.”
Fimian supported increased border security and deporting illegal immigrant criminals, but did not stress opposition to amnesty and supported an increase in temporary visas.

Race Where the Democrat Supported Amnesty and the Republican Supported Enforcement:

Ohio 1: Steve Chabot (R) vs. Steven Dreihaus (D)
Ohio House Minority Whip Steven Driehaus edged out seven term Republican incumbent Steve Chabot. In addition to the other hurdles Republicans faced this election, major factor in this race was high African American turnout in the 27% black district driven by Barack Obama. Chabot had a moderately restrictive immigration voting record. In this race, Chabot attempted to play up his anti-amnesty stance, while Driehaus gave a qualified defense of comprehensive immigration reform. According to the Politicker Ohio,

“When asked about proposals to address illegal immigration, Driehaus said he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants and he does support making English the official language of both the state of Ohio and the nation. Driehaus said he believes in a broad immigration policy. He said that there needs to be a Legalized way for workers to come into the country and recognize their role in the economy. Driehaus called for a comprehensive solution to the immigration question…”

Chabot said that he was a strong supporter of the border fence, and called the "Kennedy-McCain Amnesty Bill" a "huge mistake." Chabot said that Americans should be taken care of first. Chabot also hit Driehaus for authoring legislation urging support of the bill. Driehaus said that Chabot knows he didn't support all aspect of the bill.

Race Where Democrat Supported Enforcement and the Republican Supported Amnesty

Pennsylvania 3: Phil English (R) vs. Kathy Dahlkemper (D)
Three term incumbent Phil English was defeated by businesswomen Kathy Dahlkemper. English had a liberal voting record on immigration with a F- from Numbers USA on amnesty. Dahlkemper’s platform stated, “We must not provide Amnesty to those who are living illegally within our borders and reward their initial wrongdoing… We must make it a priority to administer and enforce strict fines on companies that hire illegal immigrants.” She went on to criticize English for voting against a bill to increase fines on employers of illegals.

A Way Out of the Wilderness
This election, fighting illegal immigration was not always the “silver bullet ” that could overcome the litany of problems for the GOP such as the economy, the war in Iraq, corruption, and hatred of President Bush.
Yet even in a tough electoral climate, immigration control could have been more successful for the GOP had John McCain, the leadership of the Republican Party, and the conservative movement been behind it. It is hard enough to campaign against the positions of the sitting president in your Party. It is even more difficult to campaign against the position of the candidate you are endorsing for president.

Leadership of key conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Return who have great influence over the movement’s electoral priorities support amnesty.
If any of these conditions change, Immigration could be the GOP’s ticket to victory in 2010.

This study stuck to lost Republican seats, so it did not include one “competitive” race that many amnesty advocates commonly point to as proof that immigration control failed: Lou Barletta’s campaign against eleven term Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski in Pennsylvania’s 11th district.

Barletta is mayor of Hazleton, PA where he gained national exposure by instituting a tough local ordinance against illegal immigration. He became so popular that he won both the Republican Party primary with 94% and the Democratic primary as a write-in over 63% of the vote.
Kanjorski squeaked by Barletta with a 3% victory, and the race was seen as proof that immigrant bashing cost the Republicans yet another competitive race. '

Yet the only reason why this race was competitive to begin with was because of the power of the illegal immigration issue when taken up by a man with a true record of leadership. Both John Kerry and Al Gore won the district by healthy margins; this district was given a Cook Partisan Voting Index of Democrats +5. Kanjorski faced no challenger in 2004 and won with 72.5% of the vote in 2006.
Kanjorski only escaped with his neck by claiming he supported border security.

His platform stated, “Paul believes that we need secure borders…He opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, and is a cosponsor of the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. This bill would combat illegal immigration through stronger worksite enforcement, increased border security, and improved interior enforcement..”

Despite a past record of supporting amnesty, both his campaign and the local media, who ran headlines like “Kanjorski, Barletta see immigration similarly,” tried to eliminate Barletta’s claim as the only anti-amnesty candidate.

That a small town mayor with 23,000 constituents came close to unseating an 11 term incumbent who normally faced no Republican opposition with this year’s electoral climate shows how much potential immigration still has to win elections for the Republican Party.

Will they take it?

About the author: Marcus Epstein is the executive director of The American Cause and Team America, an immigration control Political Action Committee founded by Congressman Tom Tancredo. A regular columnist for and Taki's Mag, he has also written for The American Consevervative, Human Events, The Washington Examiner, and The Independent Review. He is the president of The Robert Taft Club.  He received a B.A. in history from the College of William and Mary in 2006. He can be contacted at


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