By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
“Hispanics had a better night than either Democrats or Republicans” said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, Vice President, UnidosUS Latino Vote Initiative, adding “I think Hispanic have affirmed their role in shaping the country’s political landscape both as voters and as candidates on both side of the isle”.
Martinez De Castro speaking at a Wednesday morning briefing said Hispanics rejected extremism in this election and pointed to abortion as an example stating “76 percent of Hispanics regardless of their personal beliefs do not believe abortion should be illegal or that the decision should be taken away from everybody else”. It was the number two issue among Hispanic voters with inflation as the number one concern.
She also said that as candidates there may be as many as seven additional Latinos joining Congress in addition to numerous others and state and local levels. Martinez De Castro also talked about what the Democrat and the Republican party need to do to attract the Hispanic vote including protection for Dreamers. (See her full video statement below).
In Colorado, Democrat Dr. Yadira Caraveo made history on Wednesday as she became the first Latina elected to represent Colorado in Congress for Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District. Nationwide, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), who was first appointed to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ former seat by California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom nearly two years ago, became the first Latino elected to represent the state in the Senate. Anna Paulina Luna, a Republican U.S. Air Force veteran, will become Florida’s first Mexican American woman in Congress. 25-year-old Maxwell Frost (D), who is Afro-Latino, will be the first member of Gen Z in Congress. Delia Ramirez (D), a Guatemalan American state legislator whose election makes her Illinois’ first Latina member of Congress, as well as California’s House candidate Robert Garcia (D), who will be the first out LGBTQ immigrant in Congress as a gay man from Peru.
“Latino voters reemphasized their power not just in a handful of states but nationwide showing up at levels at or above 2018” said Kenneth Sandoval of Voto Latino noting several nationwide elections where Latinos determined the outcome including in Pennsylvania where Latinos voted in favor of John Fetterman by a three to one margin and in Georgia where Latinos supported Raphael Warnock over Herschel Walker by 36 points. Sandoval said that Latinos have not magically turned into Republicans overnight stating “That if Republicans want to talk to Latinos they need to talk to our issues” Sandoval also said that Latino voters and the campaigns to engage them remained an afterthought by both parties. (See his complete video statement below)
Yanira Merino, National President, LCLAA talked of the importance of Latino and Latina workers being able to organize and unionize. “Latinos must not be taken lightly and engagement of this group is a must and cannot be an afterthought.”
Héctor Sanchez Barba, Executive Director and CEO, Mi Familia Vota (MFV), empathized in his remarks that Latinos are not only the present but represent the future of democracy. “Almost 30 percent of Latino Voters are 18 to 29 years old, ten years younger than the national average add to that, that another 30 percent of Latinos are under 18 years old”. Sanchez Barba said his organization is invested in the long term future of Democracy on a daily basis.
Yvonne Gutierrez, Managing Director of Latino Victory said that while Latino voters turned out in record numbers and helped curb the “red wave” the Latino vote can no longer be taken for granted. “We need to set the record straight once and for all that Latinos are the second largest voting block in the country and their vote is consequential to our political process. As anti immigrant and anti Latino policies and rhetoric grow in the Republican Party we need more Latino voices at all government levels to insure our communities voice is heard and the issues that matter to us are addressed.”
Speaking of the money spent during this election cycle in the Hispanic community, Frankie Miranda, President, and CEO of the Hispanic Federation (HF) said that while a record 50 million dollars were spent on Spanish language advertising it was only a fraction of the billion dollars spent overall. “With 34 million eligible Latino voters is that really an investment?” he asked adding that money need to be spent as a long term investment and a long term relationship with Latino communities all across the U.S. “It is important that both Parties make sure they don’t put us in a bucket. It has been proven that every Latino thinks differently depending on their age, where they live and what are the things that matter to them.”
Thomas A Saenz, President, and General Counsel, MALDEF also talked about the impact the Latino vote has had on political elections since 2010. He also mentioned that misinformation did not have a significant impact on the Latino vote adding that some states have made it unnecessarily difficult for Latinos to vote naming Arizona, Georgia and Texas. “The fact that Latino voters make a difference comes in the face of ongoing threats to our democracy are deterred and prevented.”
See the complete video press briefing HERE