Chron E-Board and the Latino Vote
The Chron E-Board today did a lengthy take on the Latino vote. See the featured photo. The E-Board interviewed GOP Latino members of Congress who were in H-Town. I am putting the take all out there for folks to read in case you don’t subscribe to the Chron like I do. I hope the folks at the Chron don’t mind. Here it is:
Hispanic voters in Houston this week finally got the type of attention they deserve.
In an attempt to shore up support for President Biden ahead of next year’s elections, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Hardy Senior Center on the Northside at an event hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a group of Democratic members of Congress that includes U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia.
Meanwhile, the newly formed Hispanic Leadership Trust held a fundraiser at a home in Houston that brought in $250,000 to support conservative Hispanic candidates running for U.S. Congress, organizers said. They intend to erode the advantage Democrats have long had in many Latino communities. Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose district includes two-thirds of the Texas-Mexico border, was joined by five House members from Arizona, New York and California along with three candidates including his former chief of staff Luisa Del Rosal, who is running for a Dallas-area seat. Four of them also stopped by the Chronicle offices Tuesday to meet the editorial board.
No matter what party prevails in the 2024 battle to control Congress, the increased competition for Hispanic voters is a win for the country. More diverse representatives in Washington will lead to better policy, on immigration and a host of other issues.
As Democrats discussed abortion, gun violence, mental health and small businesses at their event, Garcia said, “Really every issue is a Latino issue.”
That’s not how the Republican members of the Hispanic Leadership Trust put it, though the underlying message is similar. In our meeting Tuesday, they stressed the universality of Hispanic voters’ core issues.
“We’re no different than any other community, we’re a reflection of America,” said Juan Ciscomani, a first-term representative who won an Arizona district previously held by Democrats. The son of a Tucson bus driver, Ciscomani said his parents emigrated from Mexico when he was 11 in search of better jobs, safe neighborhoods and a good education for their children.
The debate over border security and immigration, however, does need the special insight of those closest to the issue. Consider the flare-up in February, when Gonzales criticized the Border Safety and Security Act introduced by fellow Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy.
“Anyone who thinks a 3 page anti-immigration bill with 0% chance of getting signed into law is going to solve the border crisis should be buying beach front property in AZ,” Gonzales posted to social media at the time, arguing the bill would unfairly close off legal pathways for asylum-seekers, even calling it “un-Christian.”
Gonzales later helped get a bill passed in the House, the Secure the Border Act, that would resume construction of border walls, tighten asylum standards, increase the number of Border Patrol agents and, Gonzales claims, include “some legal ways people can come over,” though it also has no chance of being signed into law.
John Duarte, a freshman Republican businessman who narrowly won in an agricultural area of Northern California, told us, “Our communities are not improved by people living in the shadows,” adding “they’re here, they’ve raised children here, however they came over, they’re established in American communities, in our food system, in farming — we need a legal presence.”
It’s easy to dismiss such talk from a California conservative, but it wasn’t so long ago that a Texas Republican in the White House backed paths for immigrants to gain legal status. What changed? In California, the recent redistricting reform process created more competitive districts and more that have a majority of voting-age Latinos. In Texas, despite gaining two additional U.S. House seats largely due to growth in Hispanic and Black communities, the redrawn maps protected incumbents and reduced the number of districts where Black and Hispanic residents make up the majority of eligible voters.
Yet, an expected surge of first-time Latino voters in 2024 represent a wild card. Hispanic eligible voters made up more than 60 percent of the growth in eligible voters since 2018.
“No one knows how they’re going to behave in an election,” Jeronimo Cortino, a political science professor at the University of Houston, told the editorial board.And no one should assume.
Democrats and Republicans seem to have realized that how these young Latinos vote in the next few election cycles could influence political power for years to come.
The fight is on, and it’s overdue. Cortina warns of what he calls “the espejito effect” — holding up a shiny object but not following up with substance. That only alienates voters. Hispanic communities often complain that politicians treat them as a monolith and only show up during election season, if at all. In 2020, Republicans outperformed expectations in South Texas in part because many Democrats wouldn’t knock on doors or hold rallies during the pandemic.
We hope those days are over and that voters respond to the competition for their attention by showing up to the polls and shaking up Washington.
I am glad the E-Board put out this take. Now maybe we can get Democratic Latino members of Congress to visit the E-Board when they happen to be in H-Town.
Day 2 of early voting for the City of H-Town runoff is in the books. Go vote, please.
Commentary will try to watch the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center this evening on the flat screen. Cher will be performing.