Congressional Hispanic Caucus members believe they have a shot at gaining back the House in November through the recruitment of Latino candidates in key districts.
The GOP elected nine potent Hispanic members to Congress in 2010. Three of them were featured at the Republican National Convention in late August.
The landslide has given rise to the claim that the GOP does a better job at recruiting Latinos for higher office. This time around the Democratic base has rallied against that claim pushing their own set of candidates this election cycle.
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) said he’s confident the Democrats are going to increase the number of Latinos in Congress from a minimum of four to a maximum of eight.
“What people don’t understand is because of the history and tradition of the Democratic Party, we’ve always had a very inclusive base,” Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) and chairman of CHC told VOXXI.
“It’s reflected in our agenda in our political philosophy. Now, if you’re a Latino and Latina you might say it’s easier to run as a Republican because the line is shorter they don’t have any Latinos.”
He added that they get recognized quicker, which is part of the reason for their success. Still, he said in particular regions such as New Mexico the Democrats are certain to gain a sure win and are looking at similar prospects in Nevada.
California is expected to contribute half or more than half of Latinos in Congress. For this reason, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is already strategizing an outreach initiative in several districts.
They include former Astronaut Jose Hernandez in California’s 10th district, Raul Ruiz 36th district, Arizona’s first district, and Illinois 10th and 11th district. The DCCC is most invested in these districts because of the high population of Latinos, the quality of the candidate who is running and the vulnerability of the incumbent.
Dr. Raul Ruiz is not a politician, according to his campaign website. “He is a public servant and physician, dedicated to serving the community” and is the son of farmworkers. Hernandez has equally garnered plenty of appeal as a former NASA astronaut. As a child, Hernández worked alongside his family and farmworkers in the fields of California.
The candidates are located in what they consider part of the exclusive Red to Blue list program. House members are hosting 34 meetings to discuss the efforts in local communities.
“We know these candidates will be outspent by Republican secret corporate funded groups,” Jessy Ferguson, director of the DCCC told VOXXI. “The way we’re going to win is with grassroots campaigns like this one where we go door-to-door and make the case about the damage the Republican agenda will do to the Hispanic community.”
Ferguson reference of “secret corporate funded groups” is part of an embattled Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United. The case allows unlimited contributions to third-party groups and doesn’t obligate them to disclose their donors.
It was recently boasted this week after the Republican convention that Romney for President, Romney Victory, and the Republican National Committee announced a fundraising total of over $111.6 million in August. The campaign, RNC and state party participants have approximately $168.5 million cash on hand, according to the RNC.
“No one is going to be able trace it,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).
Becerra told VOXXI their on-the-ground strategy has to measure up and for that reason they’re going to be doubling up the efforts. The House launched the campaign “My Congress My Vote” to support candidates in these districts with a majority Latino population. The website’s aim is to appeal to the Latino voter.
“That money is going to be used to say lies and distortions about really talented Latino candidates and that may hamper their abilities to win an election,” he said.
Yet, political analyst Charlie Cook of the Cook report countered it’s going to be a hard sell.
The Cook report projects a minimal partisan shift, most likely between a Republican gain of two seats and a Democratic gain of eight seats.
“We have to gain 25 seats the Democrats—that’s hard to do in the presidential year. It all depends on turnout,” said Gonzalez.