BY FRANCO ORDONEX
MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS (MCT)
WASHINGTON — Some Hispanic Democrats are angry that one of the few major contracts for minority businesses at the Democratic National Convention went to a leader of North Carolina’s Republican Party.
Convention organizers made a big effort to contract with minority-run businesses.
But some Hispanics see contracting with the chairman of North Carolina’s Republican National Hispanic Assembly as anathema to the mission of the Democrats, especially considering the partisan differences on major issues such as immigration.
The contract also has reopened existing rifts between advocates for undocumented residents and more conservative members of the Hispanic community who are more integrated into the business community.
“The DNC convention people were hoodwinkled,” said German de Castro, co-chairman of the Hispanic Voter Coalition of Charlotte and an active member of the Hispanic American Democrats of North Carolina. “We have people in our party that needed those contracts that we should have supported because they support us.”
Victor Guzman, who leads Republican campaigns across North Carolina, received an $80,000 contract to produce thousands of blue reusable water bottles emblazoned with the skyline of the host city, Charlotte, for DNC volunteers and other attendees.
Before the convention, he had spent the past several months campaigning across the state and leading the work of Republican Latino offices in Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
Guzman credited the Democrats for putting the economic benefits of Charlotte ahead of party affiliation.
“The fact that they were blind to whatever party you belong to, I think, is a good thing,” Guzman said in an interview. “I would hope that the Republican Party was the same way.”
In March, Democratic convention planners announced an ambitious goal to spend at least one-third of contract dollars with businesses owned by a diverse range of groups, including minorities and women.
Convention organizers said last week that they were still tabulating expenditures, but they expected to reach their one-third goal for diversity spending. They would not answer questions about concerns from Hispanic Democrats about Guzman.
His contract was chosen by the convention host committee, which is nonpartisan.