Monday, August 19, 2019

Unprecedented Number of Latinos Running in California US House Race

Xavier Becerra inherited his congressional seat from a barrier-breaking Latino, Edward Roybal, and now, in the special election being held to replace him, a record number of Latinos are vying to take his place in Congress. With Latinos representing sixty-seven percent of District 34, the race has no fewer than 15 Latinos, including 8 Latinas.

“This race highlights the tremendous interest in elected office by a wide range and wide diversity of younger Latinos, politically engaged and well experienced, who make up the crop of the next generation of our civic leaders,” said Matt Barreto, a political scientist at University of California, Los Angeles and co-founder of Latino Decisions polling firm.

Of the 24 candidates, the perceived frontrunner, Jimmy Gomez, a legislator in the California Assembly, is the only candidate that holds elected office, and also counts on Becerra’s support. At a time when many eschew ‘politics as usual,’ many believe there is a new wave of political activism emerging, and many of the candidates in the CD34 race do not have the traditional political background.

“It’s interesting to see so many women, so many Latinas … there’s a double politicization (of Latinas) happening now,” as women and as Hispanics, said Mike Madrid, a political consultant and Latino politics expert with GrassrootsLab in California. Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Appointed and Elected Officials Educational Fund (NALEO) said “it’s not your typical pipeline, it’s not folks coming from other offices, working their way up the political ladder.”

Despite the slew of Latinos in the race, it’s not certain that the top spot will go to a Latino; with an area known as Koreatown in the district, Asians are 16 percent of the electorate, and Robert Lee Ahn, a Korean American businessman is currently the money leader among all candidates. While Asian voters are turning out early, Latinos are very late in deciding and mobilize very late, and this could very well determine the outcome of the CD34 race.

NBC Latino