Monday, September 16, 2019

Tom Perez pushes back on criticism of Latino voter outreach

Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez is pushing back on criticism of the party’s outreach to Latinos, saying there has been “important and substantial investment in Latino voters across the country.”

“I knew when I took this job we needed to up our game in every community,” Perez, the first Latino to head the Democratic Party, told NBC News on Monday.

Perez said work started before the midterm election cycle and included helping to get Annette Taddeo elected to the Florida state Senate and increasing the Latino vote for Democratic wins in Virginia. The party has invested about $3 million in 15 states in the run-up to the midterms on organizing, voter registration, digital strategies, radio ads and more. “And I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” Perez said.

The remarks were in response to recent news reports about critics questioning whether Democrats have done enough or spent enough this midterm cycle to get the more than 29 million Latinos who are eligible to vote nationwide to do so. Latino voters tend to vote Democrat, although their political leanings differ in various parts of the country.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 71 percent of likely Latino voters said they have high interest in the midterms. In the most recent Latino Decisions polls, 85 percent of Hispanics polled said they were certain to vote or probably would vote.

Yet getting Latino voters engaged in midterms has traditionally been an uphill battle. At a recent meeting in South Florida, organizers from the Latino advocacy organization UnidosUS who were working on voter registration noted that many area residents were not aware of the upcoming midterms.

Democrats have worked on several fronts to engage Latino voters, according to Perez and background provided by the party. It has helped pay for 20 organizers in communities considered its base, which includes Latino communities in El Paso, Texas; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; Las Cruces, N.M.; and Oklahoma City.

NBC NEWS