Ad Urging Latinos Not to Vote Angers Democrats

Updated 5:41 p.m. Eastern Time

The Nevada Democratic Party is lashing out at a conservative Hispanic group over an ad the group is launching that urges Latinos -- a critical Democratic voting bloc in the state -- to stay home on Election Day.

The group Latinos for Reform is launching a 60-second ad today in Nevada. The spot urges Latinos to abstain from voting in order to punish Democrats for failing to deliver on immigration reform.

"Don't vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message," a narrator says in the ad. "You can no longer take us for granted."

The ad will air in Spanish on Univision, according to Politico. (An English-language version is posted above.) It features, among other Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is in a tight and nasty Nevada Senate race against conservative Republican Sharron Angle.

UPDATE: Univision has decided not to air the ad, saying it "prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encourage Hispanics to vote." More here.

The Nevada Democratic Party promptly denounced the ad as the work of a "right-wing extremist front group" with the "shameful and appalling goal of suppressing the Latino vote." The party called on Angle and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval to denounce the ad and encourage Latinos to vote.

The Latin Chamber of Commerce of Nevada also denounced the ad.

"Anyone who cares about Nevada's economy and the future of Nevada's educational system needs to get out and vote in this election," said Luis Valera, vice president of the Chamber.

The Democratic Party suggested the group was working to elect Angle. They argue that the Republican candidate has an "interest in suppressing the Latino vote... rooted in the extreme anti-Hispanic agenda she's established."

Robert Desposada, president of Latinos for Reform, told Politico that he isn't encouraging Latinos to vote for Angle.

"I can't ask people to support a Republican canddiate who has taken a completely irreponsible and bordering on racist position on immigration," he said.

Desposada's group has run similarly racially-loaded ads in the past. In 2008, Latinos for Reform ran Spanish-language ads in Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico that said then-presidential candidate Barack Obama put the African-American community's interests before the Hispanic community's and prioritized relations with Africa over relations with Latin America.

Deposada once served as the director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee, and in 2001, President Bush appointed him to a commission working toward privatizing Social Security.

Hispanics make up about 25 percent of the population in Nevada, and the typically Democratic-leaning demographic group accounted for 15 percent of the electorate in 2008, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. With recent polls showing Reid trailing Angle by just a few percentage points, the Latino vote could prove critical for Reid.

The Democratic senator has made efforts to reach out to Latino voters this year, but he has not been able to push any immigration reform measures through Congress. Reid recently put the Dream Act, an immigration reform measure aimed at helping young students and military enrollees, up for a vote in the Senate as part of another bill, but the measure failed amid Republican opposition. The Senator created some controversy over the summer when he said, "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican."

Angle, meanwhile, has taken a hard line on immigration issues, airing multiple ads that cast Reid as a "friend" of illegal immigrants. Over the weekend, she created controversy by downplaying the use of generic pictures of Latinos in an ad to present a negative image of illegal immigrants. In her insistence to a group of Hispanic high school students that the ads did not necessarily portray Latinos, she also told the students that they themselves looked more Asian than Latino.

Nevada Senate Election: Harry Reid (D) Vs. Sharron Angle (R)
CBSNews.com Special Report: Campaign 2010


Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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