A Man on a Mission to Recruit NY’s Latino Voters For the GOP

Historically, Latinos have tended to vote for the Democratic ticket, and the Latinos in Queens are no exception. But Rubén Estrada wants to change that. He has made it his mission to build a Latino Republican base in the state, Queens Latino reported. What follows is a translation of a profile written by Jorge Castaño.

Rubén Estrada, president of the Latino National Republican Coalition of NY. (Photo by Javier Castaño/Queens Latino

The Democratic Party controls Queens and the Republican Party hasn’t done anything to change that. For Queens Latinos, the Republican Party doesn’t exist, and vice versa.

“But now we have an agenda to get control of the Latino vote in this borough,” said Rubén Estrada, president of the Latino National Republican Coalition of the State of New York. Estrada is a political veteran who came up in Manhattan during the 1970s.

Estrada said that the mission of the Coalition is to help people get to know the merits of the Republican Party, identify possible Latino Republican candidates and grant them access to the higher levels of the party.

What are Republican principles?

“Reducing bureaucracy and cutting public spending and taxes,” said Estrada.

The problem is that the Queens Republican Party and the state of New York have ignored Latinos. Until now, they haven’t been interested in this community.

“This is clear, but we are fighting to change this tendency and for this we want to participate in more community events,” Estrada said. “We Latinos have always been conservative because we believe in family values and we value traditions.”

The objective of the Latino National Republican Coalition of the State of New York won’t be easy to achieve. The clearest example of this was in July of this year when the Latino Republican Eric M. Mingott tried to run for the 35th Assembly District in Jackson Heights, Queens. The Republican Party accepted the candidacy of Mingott, who gathered 292 signatures when he only needed 187. But the Republican brothers John and Bart Haggerty of Forest Hill challenged his candidacy, Estrada said, “because he is Latino and because he didn’t ask permission.” Estrada unsuccessfully tried to convince them to drop their challenge.

For having pulled Mingott from the ticket, Estrada has called the brothers Haggerty intolerant criminals. The only Republican candidate was Eric Mingott, but they prevented his run, which would have benefited the party and the Latinos of this borough and the state of New York.

At a street fair in Astoria, Queens, a group of Latino Republicans gathered: Eric M. Mingott (left), Rubén Estrada (whose back is to the camera) and other members of the Queens Republican Party, including Julia Haich (in red), assembly candidate, Ore A. Jacinto (white shirt) of the Republican Committee of the state of New York and Tony Arcabascio (blue shirt), a senate candidate. (Photo by Javier Castaño/Queens Latino)

“The biggest problem we face as Latinos is the acceptance of the Republican Party,” said Estrada. “What’s more, the Democratic Party doesn’t respect our community because they always count on our support. The Republican Party has to grow and strengthen so that a true bipartisan system can exist and we can negotiate. Latinos are already in Queens. We simply have to attract them.”

At the national level, [Latinos in] the Republican Party have won multiple political spots in recent years. Marco Rubio was elected to the Florida Senate, Susana Martínez and Brian Sandoval were elected governors of New Mexico and Nevada, and Ted Cruz was just elected to the Texas Senate.

At the Republican Convention, which takes place August 27 in Tampa, Florida, Estrada will seek backing for his plan to strengthen the Latino base in New York.

“The Republican Party should be more aggressive, and the support of Latinos should official and institutional,” said Estrada, in a cafe in Astoria, Queens. Next to him sat Eric Mingott.

Estrada joined politics and the Republican Party in 1969 after seeing the Republican Nelson Rockefeller and his delegation in New York state.

“Rockefeller supported Latinos and spoke our language,” Estrada said. That same year he studied in Albany at the Republican School for adolescents at Siena College and in 1972 he participated in the Republican Convention in Miami. He worked on campaigns to elect politicians such as George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani.

Estrada wrote recently that Oscar García Rivera was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1937, becoming the first Puerto Rican politician to occupy public office in the United States.

“It’s incredible to recognize that our first elected politician was a member of the Republican Party,” Estrada said.

Estrada said he believes that presidential candidate Mitt Romney will win in November, with Paul Ryan as Vice President.

“As Republicans, we have a lot to do if we want to win the Latino vote,” he said, “and I am capable of presenting ideas and doing the work.”

Editor’s note: This article and its headline were edited after publication for clarification.