Hispanics now account for about 17 percent of the U.S. population, making them a potent political force. So it stands to reason that Hispanic super PACs are sprouting up quickly.
Two have launched since the beginning of the year, The Hill reports. Another that began as a regular PAC in 2010 has re-formed as a super PAC. And at least one other Hispanic PAC is mulling an upgrade to super PAC.
The super PACs skew both Democratic and Republican. Some are focusing their efforts on congressional elections, while others are targeting the presidency. They see themselves as giving voice to Hispanic concerns in a way that the two parties haven’t and can’t. Hispanic votes will play an important role in many swing states, including Florida.
“We see an opportunity, because there’s a gap here,” Angelette Aviles of Hispanic Vote PAC, a conservative group that formed this month, told The Hill. thehill.com/homenews/campaign/207561-the-rise-of-the-hispanic-super-pac “Even with the Republican Party, they say they have Hispanic outreach, but they never dedicate a budget to it. We’re helping to bridge that gap.”
Although Hispanics aren’t a monolithic voting bloc, they historically have voted Democratic. But the opening for Republicans is growing, as even Democrats admit.
“Republicans don’t need a large number of Hispanics. All they need to do is get a few points in each of these states and shave off that margin, and Democrats have a problem,” said Joe Velasquez of the American Latino Alliance PAC, which supports Democrats.
The GOP has noticed the same thing. It wants to involve Hispanics at all levels of the party, says Republican National Committee spokeswoman Alexandra Franceschi.
“We think the fact that these super PACs are focused on the Hispanic vote shows the growing importance of the Hispanic electorate, and how important it will be in the 2012 election,” Franceschi told The Hill.
Surprisingly enough, the Hispanic super PACs aren’t focusing on immigration policy. The conservative Hispanic Vote PAC is avoiding the issue all together, while other groups said immigration may or may not be one issue in their agenda. Polls show Hispanic voters are more concerned about jobs, education, and healthcare than immigration.
Hispanic super PACs can do what parties have been unable to by offering a broad-based economic message to Hispanics through the Spanish language media, a Democratic official in a Southwestern state told The Hill.
“Those groups will be more effective, if they are able to do it right, than frankly our party or any others, because they can focus on a specific set of needs,” the official said.
The Hispanic super PAC phenomenon presents good-governance advocates with a dilemma. They like the idea of Hispanics diving further into politics, but they oppose the free flow of unlimited cash for election campaigns.
“McCain-Feingold was supposed to increase transparency in our campaign finance,” a Republican Party source told The Hill. “It clearly hasn’t. These super-PACs are funneling money all over the place.”
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