Originally published by Politic365 here.
Politic365’s Justin Vélez-Hagan recently spoke with DeeDee Garcia Blase, Founder and former President of Somos Republicansas well as the current President of the National Tequila Party, about immigration, it’s impact on future elections, and why the issue drove her out of the Republican party.
It started off simply as a club for Republicans in Arizona. But, soon Somos Republicans transformed into something quite different after Blase and others became concerned about the work of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona’s passage of SB1070, and the overall attitude towards undocumented immigrants in Arizona.
“We wanted to prove that Republicans care about Latinos in the immigrant community,” said the Mexican-American Blase. “We were the only Latino Republican organization taking a stand against Republicans like [Governor] Jan Brewer and [State Senator] Russell Pearce.”
Despite growing up Republican and still maintaining traditionally conservative views on the size of government, economic freedom, taxes, etc., Blase recently recanted her Republican Party affiliation, becoming an independent.
“We need to send a message to the GOP that we need more [Republicans] to step up and be courageous,” said Blase. “Latino Republicans are becoming less and less influential in the political realm. The only way to effectively reform immigration is . . . via a non-partisan angle.”
Holding fast to that principle, Blase now heads the non-partisan National Tequila Party Movement, whose mission is to increase Latino voter participation. To prove the organization’s goal to maintain its non-partisan status, Blase provided this exclusive announcement to Politic365: A Democratic activist will now be the organization’s co-President.
What’s the next goal of the Tequila Party? Ensure the passage of national immigration reform by November 2012. Oh, that’s it? Blase obviously has no intention of setting her sights low.
“They say it can’t be done, but they also said we couldn’t bring down Russell Pearce . . . That same fervor, passion, and energy that we put into bringing that bigot down will be brought to our effort to support immigration reform and the DREAM Act.”
Don’t underestimate the seemingly soft-spoken and affable Blase. With an organization whose support has gained a national following, you don’t want to get on this firebrand’s bad side.
Hear the full EXCLUSIVE interview here on Politic365, as Blase further discusses how the Republican Party is continuing to push away Latinos, her disappointment in Marco Rubio, and the importance of immigration in next year’s elections.
Justin Vélez-Hagan is Senior Contributing Writer and Commentator for Politic365.com. He is also the National Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, an international developer of senior living facilities, and is a reservist in the U.S. Air Force. He can be reached at Justin@Politic365.com.