Actress and Latina activist Eva Longoria and Henry Muñoz, Finance Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, announced the creation of a new initiative and PAC with the mission of raising millions of dollars for Latino candidates. While they were announcing that at the National Press Club, there were banners behind them with current facts and figures of Latino political participation. Currently, only 28 members in the House of Representatives are Latino and only three in the Senate—all who are Cuban-American.
Longoria fears that the gains made in numbers by Latinos this year have not kept up in terms of political clout. In the 2012 election, Latinos cast around 11 million ballots, while about 12 million did not, and she believes there is much more potential and untapped resources in the Hispanic community. In 2012, Longoria and Muñoz led the Obama campaign’s Futuro Fund, which helped raise $32 million, with a large percentage of that money coming from first-time donors. Longoria hopes to tap into that network so millions more can be raised for Latino candidates. At the event, the newly formed group, Latino Victory Fund, formally endorsed seven candidates. While Longoria said the group is bi-partisan, all seven candidates who were endorsed are Democrats. When asked if the group would eventually endorse a Latino Republican candidate, she responded by saying, “I don’t think the solutions to issues of the Latinos lie within one particular party.”
Some of those who were endorsed include Texas state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who is running for Lieutenant Governor in Texas; Charlie Christ, who is running for his old position as Governor of Florida; Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who is running for Lieutenant Governor; and Angel Taveras, Mayor of Providence, who is running for Governor of Rhode Island. Taveras seemed excited after finding out about the endorsement. According to him, the group’s endorsement will help him extend his reach to donors nationwide.
In an interview, Project President Cristobal Alex announced they were close to raising their goal of $5 million this cycle. There is no doubt these new resources being offered by the group will help candidates in their campaigns. The real question is: will Latinos show up to vote come midterms? Latinos voter turnout tends to be higher in presidential elections compared to the midterms. Longoria addressed this issue and stated it will be an obstacle, especially given the fact that Obama will not be on the ticket this year. “Everybody gets so energized and excited to vote in the presidential elections,” she said, “but yet we’re not energized enough to vote for the people who have to work with the president.”
Carlos Vera is a Staff Writer at Latino Giant. Originally from Colombia, Carlos grew up in Southern California and has served in the Army Reserves since 2011. He is a junior at American University, pursuing a degree in Political Science. He is currently studying abroad in Brussels where is he is a Legislative Intern at the European Parliament. He is passionate about the intersection between policy, advocacy and community development as it pertains to Latinos in United States.