Latino Politics and the Case of Mayor Tom Selders

November 8 2010, 3:00 PM

Back in 2008, 5280 staff writer Robert Sanchez took a close look at how Greeley represented the center of debate surrounding immigration reform in the United States. That same year, Barack Obama was courting the Latino vote across the country with promises of prioritizing reform should he win his bid for president. Two years later, immigration reform, which has yet to progress under Obama's administration, continues to polarize politics nationally and locally.

Perhaps no candidate felt that divide more deeply than Republican Tom Selders, the Greeley mayor who lost his re-election bid—likely due to angry conservative voters who considered him to be an ally of undocumented immigrants and too soft on illegal immigration. The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Selders' political life, which has seen various conflicts with Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, reviled by local Latinos for his anti-immigrant stances, including his role in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on Greeley's Swift meatpacking facility in 2006.

Selders' loss stands out in a mid-term election that found Hispanics "weren’t nearly as motivated to vote Democratic as they were to show solidarity with the Latino community," writes Politico, which looks at how issues like immigration and the so-called DREAM Act might impact 2012 for both parties. Indeed, more Latino Republicans were elected to national office this year than ever before—with Florida's Cuban-American Senator-elect Marco Rubio gaining most of the attention. Still, New American Media points out that Latinos played a major role in holding the U.S. Senate for the Dems, including Michael Bennet's seat in Colorado, "accounting for six percent of the overall vote."