The brewing frustration among many Latinos over the inaction on immigration by both Congress and President Obama could dissuade many to sit out the elections.
But that inaction, an Independent candidate for Congress in Arizona is arguing in his campaign, is exactly why they need to vote – for someone who is an Independent.
Jose Peñalosa, an immigration attorney, is running against Ruben Gallego, a Democrat who faces no Republican opponent.
Gallego is considered a shoo-in for the seat vacated by longtime Rep. Ed Pastor, who said he was retiring. Political experts say the district is iron-clad Democrat and that when he won the primary, Gallego essentially won the 7th Congressional District seat.
Not so fast, Peñalosa is saying.
"This election is not over and Ruben Gallego should not take voters for granted," said Peñalosa in a new press release.
Echoing a call by several Latino leaders in recent days about the importance of supporting candidates outside the two major parties, Peñalosa says the recent decision by Obama to delay executive action on aspects of immigration until after the November election underscores that Beltway politicians are more beholden to the Republican and Democratic parties than they are to voters.
“Mr. Gallego has been silent on the President’s inaction on immigration reform and many other issues which are affecting our communities,” Peñalosa said. “I’m ready to lead a new effort to bring about lasting solutions to our broken immigration system and help end the partisanship which has gridlocked Congress.”
Peñalosa ran for Congress in 2010 as a Republican and in 2012 as an Independent.
He has said he left the Republican Party after it supported SB 1070, Arizona’s immigration law.
Gallego, an Iraqi War veteran, describes himself as the son of immigrants and the first to go to college in his family.
His campaign has focused on stemming the cost of college, and better health care for veterans.
Peñalosa’s campaign notes that the congressional district is 43 percent Democrat, 41 percent Independent and 16 percent Republican.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Gallego’s loyalty to President Obama and the Democratic party, supersedes his commitment to families in our community,” said Peñalosa. “Indeed, I challenge him to publicly denounce the President and the Democratic party for delaying the executive action that would have kept families together.”
The Dream Action Coalition, an advocacy group for young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, are supporting Peñalosa.
Another candidate in the race is Libertarian Joe Cobb.
As for the Dream Action Coalition endorsement, Peñalosa was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying: "There's an opportunity for them to have a voice and not be utilized and ignored by the Republican Party or be served as basically tokens for the Democratic Party. Right now, they're in that particular dilemma. As an independent, I can represent what's best for the district, and our district is ground zero with regard to immigration law."