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June 23, 2011, 9:02 a.m.

Ex-Rep. Joe Dio­Guardi (R) “re­spon­ded” 10/7 to Sen. Kirsten Gil­librand’s (D) TV ads that “char­ac­ter­izes” Dio­Guardi “as a tax cheat with a re­cord of waste­ful spend­ing while in Con­gress in the 1980s.”

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Dio­Guardi: “I know how to pre­pare my taxes. It is des­per­ate for the sen­at­or to go back to 1978. I pre­pared prob­ably 55 tax re­turns and one was audited. This was a nor­mal audit. I was in a part­ner­ship on that re­turn, it wasn’t me alone, with three oth­er part­ners of my old firm.”

Dio­Guardi, on if GOP­ers will sup­port him: “They are now. I was at a din­ner last night with Re­pub­lic­an Chair­man of New York State Ed Cox. Every­one is sup­port­ing me.” Dio­Guardi, on abor­tion: “I will agree with the laws of the land right now. But in this is­sue, I be­lieve that life is pre­cious. I be­lieve the prob­lem is the over­whelm­ing num­ber of un­wanted preg­nan­cies in Amer­ica.” Dio­Guardi, on cam­paign­ing with his daugh­ter/ex-Amer­ic­an Idol judge Kara Dio­Guardi: “Her is­sues are in Hol­ly­wood and mine with Wash­ing­ton. … She has done more to get people to pro­nounce my name right and spell it right than any­body” (Har­tung/Delargy, “Polit­ic­al Hot­sheet”, CBS News, 10/7).

More Dio­Guardi, on Kara: “I don’t want to get her branded in polit­ics. … She just got mar­ried. I would like to be a grand­fath­er” (Fer­mino, New York Post, 10/7).

All In A Past Life

Dio­Guardi “said” 10/7 that he “isn’t cur­rently” a “prac­ti­cing” CPA. He “let his CPA re­gis­tra­tion” lapse in 1996 and “only re-re­gis­terd” 10/5 “after of­fi­cials told him he had to do it if he wanted to use the titles ‘Cer­ti­fied Pub­lic Ac­count­ant’ or ‘CPA.’”

Dio­Guardi: “I’m a CPA. But I’m not a prac­ti­cing CPA.” Dio­Guardi “sends out a daily e-mail: ‘State of the Day from a CPA.’” Dio­Guardi “blamed the lapse” on “cir­cum­stances,” such as his first wife be­ing “ter­min­ally ill at the time of re­gis­tra­tion re­new­al, and the state mailed the re­gis­tra­tion form to the wrong ad­dress and it wasn’t for­war­ded” (Brune, News­day, 10/7).

Christine Mastin, an im­mig­ra­tion at­tor­ney whose Span­ish-speak­ing grand­moth­er emig­rated from Chile to the United States, real­izes that most of the His­pan­ics she knows are sur­prised she is a Re­pub­lic­an.

Barack Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote in 2008, and no Re­pub­lic­an has come close to win­ning a ma­jor­ity in 40 years. But she is work­ing Col­or­ado for Mitt Rom­ney.

And even though she ran for a state House seat in 2010 and lost, she is op­tim­ist­ic that the GOP will soon be able to crack the code.

“Maybe it might strike folks a little odd that I would be a Re­pub­lic­an,” she told me re­cently. “But the Re­pub­lic­ans truly be­lieve in in­di­vidu­al liberty, hard work, en­tre­pren­eur­i­al­ism, al­low­ing fam­il­ies to build them­selves up and really suc­ceed in this coun­try. And all of those val­ues are aligned not only with Amer­ica gen­er­ally, but also the Latino com­munity.”

This is a pitch Re­pub­lic­ans hope will re­verse a grow­ing demo­graph­ic di­lemma. U.S. census fig­ures now es­tim­ate that more chil­dren of col­or are be­ing born than Caucasi­ans. This is not good news for a party that has been largely de­pend­ent on white voters.

Many Re­pub­lic­ans know how these num­bers work. Pres­id­ent George W. Bush spoke ex­pans­ively about big tents and the value of (leg­al) im­mig­ra­tion. At a cam­paign ap­pear­ance re­cently in South Flor­ida, Mitt Rom­ney con­ceded that fail­ing to win more of the His­pan­ic vote would spell “doom” for the GOP. But when he ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton this week to speak to a Latino busi­ness group, he sailed through his speech with not one men­tion of the demo­graph­ic di­lemma.

How much of a di­lemma? Check out this graph­ic from The Wash­ing­ton Post.

One chart shows the rate at which His­pan­ics have voted for Re­pub­lic­ans (slug­gish), while the oth­er shows the rate at which the His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing (ro­bust).

“When Bill Clin­ton was elec­ted pres­id­ent of the United States, about 3.7 per­cent of the elect­or­ate was Latino,” Stan­ford polit­ic­al sci­ent­ist Gary Se­gura told me. “In this elec­tion year, it will be just un­der 10 per­cent. So the votes more or less tripled. And when you have that many more people and that many more voters, they mat­ter in more places.”

Se­gura calls it “demo­graph­ic pan­ic.”

Moreover, Se­gura points out that the story no longer be­gins and ends in Flor­ida, Texas, and Cali­for­nia. “We are sur­prised to hear that Lati­nos count in places like Wis­con­sin,” he says, “or Pennsylvania, or Vir­gin­ia — places that we don’t think of as Latino-in­tens­ive states but where there’s a grow­ing Latino pop­u­la­tion and a grow­ing Latino elect­or­ate.”

It is no ac­ci­dent that those are also 2012 battle­ground states. That’s why I went to Col­or­ado to try to tell the story this year. You’ll see what I dis­covered on an up­com­ing PBS News­Hour broad­cast. But suf­fice to say, the GOP’s up­hill battle is clear.

Ry­an Call, the Col­or­ado Re­pub­lic­an Party chair­man who learned to speak Span­ish as a Mor­mon mis­sion­ary, says his goal is to con­vince His­pan­ic voters that Barack Obama has failed them.

“The price of gas doubled un­der Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he says. “Those are the is­sues that are really hit­ting the His­pan­ic com­munity the hard­est. And those are is­sues that the pres­id­ent has really failed on. So for us as Re­pub­lic­ans, how are we go­ing to ap­peal to this His­pan­ic com­munity? It’s talk­ing about those is­sues and out­lining with great clar­ity and prin­ciple how we’re go­ing to help cre­ate op­por­tun­it­ies for their busi­nesses to suc­ceed, jobs to be had, op­por­tun­it­ies for high­er edu­ca­tion. Those are the things that are the most im­port­ant to our His­pan­ic neigh­bors.”

It may be a tough­er sell to con­vince His­pan­ics that Re­pub­lic­ans sup­port their views on il­leg­al im­mig­ra­tion, which con­cen­trate on law en­force­ment and shrink­ing the path­way to cit­izen­ship.

While polls show that most His­pan­ics do not cite im­mig­ra­tion as their chief con­cern, Demo­crats and some wor­ried Re­pub­lic­ans ac­know­ledge it is an emo­tion­al, gate­way is­sue for first- or second-gen­er­a­tion Latino-Amer­ic­ans who might oth­er­wise be per­suaded to con­sider vot­ing for a Re­pub­lic­an.

“The rhet­or­ic that came out of the primary cam­paign in the Re­pub­lic­an party was so neg­at­ive to Lati­nos gen­er­ally that even Lati­nos who were not that sup­port­ive of im­mig­ra­tion re­form were of­fen­ded,” former Den­ver May­or Fe­d­erico Pena, a Demo­crat, told me. “So Re­pub­lic­ans have an up­hill climb here, but we have the chal­lenge of mak­ing sure that the ex­cite­ment level, the mo­tiv­a­tion, the en­thu­si­asm is there not only among Lati­nos, but among all Demo­crats.”

There’s the rub. En­thu­si­asm ap­pears to be an elu­sive com­mod­ity this elec­tion year. Between now and the fall, an old for­mula will have to fall in­to place —  each party will have to do its best to ex­cite its base and de­press the op­pos­i­tion. A lot of that activ­ity will hap­pen in His­pan­ic com­munit­ies.

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