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Hispanic Publisher Takes Aim At Senator Over Trump Endorsement

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

State Senator Ralph Alvarado is drawing fire for his speech before the Republican National Convention in July, with a well-known Hispanic newspaper publisher in Lexington likening the lawmaker to a GOP "jester."

The first Hispanic elected to the Kentucky Senate and one of few to grace the stage in Cleveland, Alvarado delivered an impassioned plea for Hispanics to connect with their traditional conservative values and back the Republican nominee. The first-generation American, whose parents immigrated legally to the U.S. in the 1960s, stressed the dignity of hard work, self-sufficiency, and traditional values.

"Vote with me. Vote Republican. Vote for Donald Trump," he urged in Spanish. 

Afterward, the Winchester Republican sounded encouraged by early reviews.

"I'm starting to get my feedback, now that I'm back home. It was a well-received speech, which I'm glad to hear," he reported. "You always worry when you only have six minutes, you know, can you get your message across, will people understand the message you're trying to get, but I think everybody has been very pleased with it so far."

But a prominent Hispanic voice in Lexington is speaking out against the senator, publishing a blistering op-ed in the Herald-Leader Friday. Andres Cruz, the editor and publisher of bilingual newspaper La Voz de Kentucky, dismissed Alvarado as a “clown in the circus of Trump.”

"To allow yourself to be part of this campaign is an absolute shame. It's a joke," Cruz told WUKY in a phone interview. "The idea they're trying to sell you is 'even Hispanics support us,' and that's not true."

While Alvarado considers the GOP a natural home for Latinos, polls have consistently shown Trump struggling to overcome historic or near-historic negatives. The controversial business mogul entered the political fray in 2015 with now-famous remarks centering on Mexican immigrants: "They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people..." For Cruz, Alvarado's inclusion in the RNC speaker lineup smacked of tokenism.

"How poor is the Hispanic representation in the Republican party that they had to come all the way to Kentucky... they have to go to District 28 in Winchester to find maybe the only person that we can cast so that we can address this population?" he asked.

But speaking just prior to the convention Alvarado warned against pigeonholing Hispanics, who aren't necessarily sold on Democrat Hillary Clinton either despite her commanding lead in polls. 

"Even though everybody think immigration's their main focus, a lot of Hispanics who have waited their time in line and done things the right way don't like to see other people cut in line," the senator said.

The Pew Research Center estimates 27.3 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in the November elections.

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