Pa. lawmakers weigh bill that would allow independents to vote on primary candidates

Local Latinos march against Toomey, Trump

Sean Philip Cotter

Fifty York- and Reading-area residents from pro-Hispanic organizations showed up, singing and chanting, outside the federal building in Harrisburg to give Sen. Pat Toomey a pink slip.

"March of Latinos and People of Color Against Trump/Toomey" Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Harrisburg. Amanda J. Cain photo

Well, pink poster board, anyway — one read "Pat Toomey: You're fired," saying he was "promoting hate."

Elizabeth Alex and Mirna Gonzalez, who are with the organization CASA in Action, which has offices in York City, took the symbolic pink slip up to Toomey's office, saying they planned to vote him out on Election Day, Nov. 8.

The demonstration, which a news release called March of Latinos and People of Color Against Trump/Toomey, started at 11 a.m. Wednesday under a warm fall sun outside the state Republican Headquarters at 112 State St., just two blocks away from the state Capitol building.

Adanjesus Marin, of Reading leads a chant outside of the Federal Building during the "March of Latinos and People of Color Against Trump/Toomey" Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Harrisburg. Amanda J. Cain photo

Toomey, the incumbent junior Pennsylvania senator, is locked in a tight re-election battle with Katie McGinty, a Democrat.

Involved: Sara Salazar, of Hanover, had been registering people around York City to vote until Tuesday's deadline. She said she's gotten involved this election because of how much immigrants like herself have been talked about.

"I want to express myself about my feelings about what's going on right now," she said. "I don't want a hater in charge," she added, referring to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

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Several people who spoke at the demonstration talked about the billionaire businessman's comments about Hispanic people, such as his comments that many Mexicans who'd come to the United States illegally were rapists or other kinds of criminals. They also were concerned about the rhetoric revolving around the wall Trump's promised to build on the U.S.-Mexico border if he becomes president, saying it would happen on Mexico's dime.

People held signs in protest, many tying Toomey to Trump, reading slogans such as "Dump Dumb Trump and Toomey too" and "Trump-Toomey politics of hate."

"It looks like they are competing, Toomey and Trump, which one is better at the hate," said Luis Vera, of Reading.

Registering: Elizabeth Alex, who's a member of the CASA in Action staff, registered about 3,500 people around York, Lancaster and Dauphin counties. She said many more people have registered to vote this year because they're tired of immigrants being a political football, vilified in particular by Trump and Toomey, who's the author of a bill that would take aim at "sanctuary cities."

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This bill would have applied to places where local law-enforcement authorities are instructed not to share information about people's legal status with federal law enforcement. The bill did not have enough support to move to a full vote from the Senate in July.

"Toomey and Trump are cut from the same cloth when it comes to demonizing immigrant communities," said Andrew Reinel, who works out of the CASA offices in York City Hall.The race: Real Clear Politics, which aggregates political opinion polls, has Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton nationally in an average of polls. In a four-way race, Clinton, as of Wednesday night, was drawing 44.6 percent to Trump's 39.1 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein each in the single digits. In Pennsylvania, Clinton led Trump by an average of 47.6 to 39.0, according to RCP.

On Wednesday, RCP had Toomey leading McGinty 43.2 to 42.8 in a race that's gone back and forth for months.

—  Contact Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.