As lieutenant governor of New Mexico, I have had the privilege of living and serving in a state with over 50 percent minority residents. Now that I’m in the last few months of my second term, I want to share a little bit about my story and explain why many Hispanics should and will vote for Republicans in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was the youngest of eight children. We were raised by a single mother in absolute poverty.
When I got older, I realized I had been raised with solid conservative values. My mother was never political. However, she taught us the values of personal responsibility and hard work. She showed us that taking advantage of opportunity was the way out of poverty.
When I use the word “poverty,” what I mean is this: there was a time in our life when we didn’t have running water. I grew up using an outhouse. I know what it is like to have holes in my shoes.
However, it wasn’t poverty itself that shaped me – it was my mother telling me that although no one owed me anything, there was hope. In this amazing country of America, anything is possible.
My mother told all of us that if we worked hard, stayed in school and did the right thing we could live the American Dream. She was right.
I often tell the story of going through the trashcans behind the local supermarket with my brothers, trying to find cardboard from old boxes to replace the worn-out soles of our shoes. We hoped it wouldn’t rain that night, causing our shoes to fall apart on the way to school.
But the story didn’t end there. Because we lived the values passed to us by my mother, we achieved success.
I found myself 40 years later having dinner with the president of the United States. Sitting there with the most powerful man, in the most powerful city, in the most powerful nation in the world, I looked down at my new expensive dress shoes. I realized how far my mother’s values and her dream of America had taken me.
Like many Hispanic families, we wanted to secure a better life, so we started a business at Mom’s kitchen table. We founded what would become one of New Mexico’s most successful small businesses, twice being honored as the small business of the year. We did this by following the pro-business, empowerment principles that we learned at home and found in the Republican Party.
After realizing the truth of the American Dream, I was compelled to give back to my community through public service. My first election was to serve as a councilman of our small community, working hard to empower the business community.
Next, I was inspired to do what many thought was impossible: taking on the powerful speaker of the New Mexico state House. At that time, Raymond Sanchez was the longest-serving speaker of any assembly in the nation. In a heavily Hispanic district that was 2-1 registered in favor of the Democrats, I emerged the winner as the Republican candidate.
Having the same last name as the opposing candidate, all that separated us was the values that we fought for. I spoke about the hand up while he talked about the hand out. I discussed using welfare as a trampoline to propel you to a better life; he spoke of welfare as a hammock to lie in, keeping you safe until you die.
I went on to speak of how the empowerment of education leads to economic freedom. He believed people deserved increased dependency on government.
Obviously, my message resonated with our people and we won!
As a businessman, city councilman, state representative, and now as lieutenant governor of New Mexico, these are the values that I believe in, as we wage a battle between two distinct visions for America.
The traditional Hispanic values include a strong faith in God, a deep sense of patriotism, devotion to family, reverence for the sanctity of life and a powerful work ethic. There is a strong drive among traditional Hispanics to be free to build lives that hold to these values without government interference or societal condemnation.
In the 1960s, these values were not incongruent with the Democratic Party. Growing up, my uncle always had a picture of President John F. Kennedy in his home. During my lifetime, however, I have seen the Democratic Party morph into something JFK would not recognize.
As of late, those on the left have little interest in job creation or patriotism. They are now using the word “socialist” to define themselves, and their agenda features massive government takeovers of scores of private industries, including health care. There is no room in their angry rhetoric for the mainstays of Hispanic life: faith, family and freedom.
There also seems to be a disconnect between the Democratic Party and Hispanic citizens’ views on immigration.
Hispanic Americans do not want foreign criminals to flood our southern border, hidden among the legal workers many of our industries need.
We do not want the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to be disarmed, allowing drug dealers to run loose among us.
As the owner of a construction business, I can appreciate that there are often not enough available legal workers. However, a competent guest worker policy could solve many of these problems. It is not impossible.
If we could send men to the moon with less technology than we now have in a few of our smartphones, clearly we can implement a coherent immigration policy.
Elections have consequences. Going back to the double-digit unemployment we suffered under President Obama is not an option. Republicans offer the best hope Hispanics have for a better life.
I implore all American Hispanics to vote Republican in the midterm elections. Republicans are fighting our fights – for a stronger military, increased economic growth, religious freedom and job creation. The list is endless.
Already, with a Republican Congress and a Republican president, unemployment for Hispanics is now lower than it has been in my lifetime.
In 2017, the median income for Hispanic households rose at more than twice the rate of the rest of the population. The national gross domestic product has climbed above 4 percent under the Trump administration. And global respect for the U.S. is quickly returning.
From the state house to the White House, we need to stand together and elect the people who will stand for us.
The combination of Hispanic Republicans running for office and their identification with core values among Hispanic voters is leading to some surprising results.
Hispanics in Texas earlier this year were showing support for Gov. Greg Abbot 49 to 45 percent. And Sen. Ted Cruz now appears to be leading comfortably in his re-election campaign, with roughly 37 percent of Hispanics favoring him.
Also in Texas this year, GOP state Sen. Pete Flores was elected to a seat that had been held by Democrats for 139 years, defeating a popular Democrat.
For Hispanics, our time to make a difference as Republicans is here.
John A. Sanchez, a Republican, is lieutenant governor of New Mexico.