Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday announced the endorsement of former California Gov. Pete Wilson, and named him the Romney campaign's honorary California chairman -- a choice that might not sit well with Latino voters.
"I'm honored to have Governor Pete Wilson's support, because he's one of California's most accomplished leaders. As governor of California from 1991 to 1999, he led California from the depths of recession to prosperous economic recovery," Romney said in a news release.
"Taking office with an inherited revenue gap of over $14 million, he left his successor a surplus of over $12.5 million," Romney continued. "Pete persuaded Democratic Legislative majorities to enact dramatic tax and regulatory relief especially helpful to small businesses."
But some believe making Wilson the campaign's honorary chair might alienate California Latino voters still embittered by Wilson's support of Proposition 187 of 1994, which sought to create a state-run citizenship screening system and bar undocumented immigrants from using health care, public education and other social services.
Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said Romney "is getting really bad campaign advice."
"Anybody on the ground in California who was hoping to peel away Latino voters in a general election wouldn't put Pete Wilson front and center," Vargas said. "To me it's baffling.
Exit polls showed Whitman won only about a third of California's Latino vote.
UC-Irvine political science and Chicano/Latino studies professor Louis DeSipio, an expert in Latino politics and voting, agreed Wilson's support "will add to what has been a pretty consistently negative message from the Romney campaign to Latino voters in California and across the nation."
"It is clear that he will be a success in the White House, as the strong leader America so desperately needs to reverse the unprecedented and utterly irresponsible borrowing, taxing and spending of the Obama administration," Wilson said.