Tags: Latino | primary | Senate | California

Calif. Latino Leaders Lobby for One of Their Own in Senate Primary

Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 07:18 PM

Leaders of California's Latino Democrats made the case on Tuesday that including one of their own in the race to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate would bring much-needed energy to the primary.

Boxer's announcement she would not seek re-election in 2016 set Democratic politicians jockeying for support from party heavyweights, with state Attorney General Kamala Harris emerging as the early front-runner.

But Latino Democrats have hesitated to line up behind Harris while they wait to see if former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez or California Secretary of State Alex Padilla enters the race. Harris is of African-American and Asian descent.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo, chair of the California Latino Caucus, released a poll commissioned by the legislative group that found having a Hispanic candidate in the primary would draw more Latino voters to the polls.

"One of the goals of the Latino Caucus is to develop avenues that empower the Latino community all across the state of California," Alejo said in a statement accompanying the poll. "This survey shows that a viable Latino candidate would generate enthusiasm and increase turnout among Latino voters, which would help Democrats across the board."

Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the caucus, said Latino voters were not expressly asked if they would be more likely to go to the polls for a Latino candidate.

That conclusion, he said, was borne out by survey results that showed their strong preference for Villaraigosa, even though he has not declared his candidacy or run for public office at all since 2009.

The poll of 600 likely California voters taken from Jan. 27-29 by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group also found that Villaraigosa enjoyed greater name recognition than Harris, 66 percent to 62 percent.

Salazar said the caucus did not endorse candidates for federal office and was not pushing any particular candidate to enter the race, but was instead arguing that a Latino in the race would generate more enthusiasm up and down the ballot.

"It's not about one candidate or another, but having an exciting candidate generates excitement up and down the ticket," he said.

In California, about 7 percent of residents identify as black or African-American, according to U.S. Census data, while Hispanics comprise nearly 40 percent of the population.

Harris' star has been rising for several years, and she has been widely mentioned as a candidate for U.S. Senate or governor.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Leaders of California's Latino Democrats made the case on Tuesday that including one of their own in the race to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate would bring much-needed energy to the primary.Boxer's announcement she would not seek re-election in 2016 set Democratic...
Latino, primary, Senate, California
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2015-18-03
Tuesday, 03 Feb 2015 07:18 PM
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