Latinos continue to be underrepresented in state and national political offices, but a political advocacy organization co-founded by actress Eva Longoria is looking to change that.
At a press conference held in Washington, D.C., on Monday, the Latino Victory Project launched new efforts to help Latinos build political power. These efforts include encouraging more Latino to run for office and engage in the political process.
During the 2012 Elections, we got a taste of how powerful the Latino community could be as record numbers of voters and donors participated in the political process, Longoria said at Mondays event, according to a press release. When we engage, we get a seat at the table. This is why we stand here today in an effort to capture that momentum and institutionalize that power through the launch of the Latino Victory Project.
Joining Longoria at Mondays event was Latino Victory Project co-founder Henry Muñoz III, who is the finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and the groups president Cristobal Alex. Also on hand was Rep. Joaquin Castro (R-Texas).
The group described the Latino Victory Project as a nonpartisan effort to build political power within the Latino community to ensure the voices of Latinos are reflected at every level of government and in the policies that drive our nation.
They also noted that Latinos are underrepresented in state and national offices, even though Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population.
Latinos currently hold only 28 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and three of the 100 seats in the Senate. At the state level, there are only eight Latinos elected to statewide offices. This includes two Latino governors: Republicans Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.
Group aims to get more Latinos elected
In an effort to get more Latinos elected to office, the Latino Victory Project announced plans for a political action committee dubbed Latino Victory PAC. It is designed to back candidates who will best represent issues important to Latinos. Such issues include immigration reform, education, the economy and health care.
Alex said the PAC is close to raising its goal of $5 million this cycle, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, the PAC endorsed eight candidates all Democrats who are running for state and national offices all across the country. Among the Latino candidates endorsed were Amanda Renteria, who is running for Congress in California; Texas state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who is running for lieutenant governor; Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who is also running for lieutenant governor; and Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, who is running for governor.
The PAC also endorsed Charlie Crist, who is running for governor in Florida. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University shows Crist leads Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott by 10 percentage points.
The Latino Victory Project is also trying to increase Latino voter turnout. In the 2012 elections, an estimated 11 million Latinos came out to vote, but about 12 million eligible Latino voters did not.
In a recent interview on Fusions America With Jorge Ramos, Longoria spoke about some of the Latino Victory Projects goals.
When the ballot doesnt represent the national population, who are Latinos to vote for? Who are we to get behind and back? she said. The Latino Victory Project is going to do three things: were going to develop future leaders, were going to mobilize support for those future leaders and existing leaders today, and were also going to shape public policy around issues that are important to the Latinos community.