State House Minority Leader Larry Cafero raised some eyebrows this week when he signaled his openness to a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to get a Connecticut drivers license. Cafero, a Republican, is a staunch conservative so it wouldn’t be surprising for him to oppose the measure. But he is also likely to run for governor and his moderate position on this issue may be a sign of things to come—legislators taking positions with an eye on independent voters in a gubernatorial election. Both Cafero and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney are considering bids for governor.
Cafero hasn’t exactly been a friend to immigrants who don’t have legal status. For instance, he was a vocal opponent of the state’s “Dream Act” passed in 2011 that allowed undocumented students to take advantage of in-state tuition rates at state universities. He voted against it. Of course, he wasn’t running for governor in 2011 and didn’t see a need to ingratiate himself to any particular demographic.
Of course the “Dream Act” and the drivers license bill are different issues but they impact the same communities. Is Cafero playing to the audience or does he really have a new-found concern for illegal immigrants? And on what other issues might he soften his blather and his hardline positions? That remains to be seen.