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Democratic Groups Fill Gap In Race For Hispanic Support, New Ads Feature Hispanic Politicians…Latino Registration Drive Planned

Democratic Groups Fill Gap In Race For Hispanic Support

By Hans Nichols

May 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE HILL. All rights reserved.

In the pitched battle for Hispanic voters, Democrats have been forced to rely heavily upon their affiliated 527 soft-money groups, causing concern among House Democrats that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Kerry campaign are a step behind the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) Hispanic operation.

But Republican lawmakers and operatives are also worried that their own 527s have not taken seed to combat the aggressive Hispanic outreach efforts of groups such as the New Democratic Network (NDN) and Americans Coming Together (ACT).

The NDN yesterday released another batch of ads – featuring Latino stars such as Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N. M.) – to court unaffiliated Hispanic voters in four battleground states. With ad buys in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, the NDN hopes to turn three reds states into blue ones. Their media blitz also targeted New Mexico, carried by Al Gore in 2000.

But despite these 527 efforts, there is widespread concern among senior House Democrats that their party’s official committees have not done enough.

"Nobody is doing enough," said Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "To do Spanish media, that’s usually an afterthought."

Rodriguez said he is worried that his party will take both the African-American and Latino vote for granted.

"We bring it up with the DNC and the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] all the time. They are getting better, but we’re just not there yet," said Rodriguez.

He added: "We’re not there on many fronts. The Republicans just have so many more resources."

The Bush campaign has been running Spanish-language ads since March 3, spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said. Last Monday, the campaign released its first original Spanish- content ad, its third Spanish- language spot overall.

The Kerry campaign is expected to launch its own Spanish spots in the next couple of weeks, though the exact date and size of the adbuy is still underdetermined, said several Democratic sources.

"The DNC is now really an arm of the Kerry campaign and I would assume that they will in fact start reaching out," said Menendez, who, as caucus chairman, is the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress.

"We have to recognize that they [the Republicans] are spending a lot of money," he said.

However, Menendez appeared undeterred that in a dollar-for-dollar match-up, the Republicans would gain the upper hand with Latino voters.

"Their biggest problem is that they are selling a bad product," said Menendez.

One Hispanic leader last week questioned Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) decision to skip a DNC Hispanic outreach conference in Florida this past weekend. Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock told The Hill he was disappointed that Kerry campaigned in Florida on Wednesday but left the state before the DNC conference started.

On Friday, McClintock said, "The Kerry campaign is taking the Hispanic vote for granted." He also criticized Kerry for not having a position on whether Puerto Rico should be granted statehood.

But after the conference ended on Sunday, McClintock said he was impressed by the number of Kerry campaign staffers who attended the DNC event.

The NDN has spent over $1.5 million on Hispanic outreach, far surpassing any official DNC expenditures. Of that amount, roughly $1 million has been directed to ad buys, said NDN spokeswoman Maria Cardona.

The Bush campaign declined to release the size of its media buys.

"Our goal has always been to spend $5 million by Labor Day," said Cardona.

She added, "Our objective was always to embark on this historic effort because we saw the opening and we saw the need." Cardona also pointed to the get-out-the-vote efforts by ACT.

Officials at the DNC as well as Democratic consultants said they were grateful that outside groups had been filling the gap as the Kerry campaign gets its sea legs.

"The design has always been to save our money and hand it over to the campaign," said a DNC official.

The official added: "I’d rather line up with our Republican team in terms of what we’ve got and what they’ve got for the fall."

On the Republican side, despite the ongoing effort by the RNC and the ad buys by the Bush campaign, GOP lawmakers said they were worried about the 527 advantage by Democrats.

"The truth of the matter is that this campaign has had an aggressive Hispanic outreach campaign for months," said Castillo.

However, there appeared to be significant concern about Democratic-leaning 527s on this front and the GOP’s apparent intransigence toward gettting into the soft-money game.

"The Democrats are pretty active on 527s. I don’t know what Republicans are doing," said Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"It’s in the interest of the Republican party that we get active," Reynolds said.

But other Republicans were more sheepish about ginning up 527 support and possibly running afoul of the Federal Election Commission and the new campaign finance laws. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), who heads minority outreach for the GOP, said, "It’s against the law to even coordinate with outsides groups. We’re not even talking about it."

Bob Cusack contributed to this report.

New Dem Ads Feature Hispanic Politicians

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

May 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - Five Hispanic politicians explain what it means to them to be Democratic leaders in two new television commercials launched in four states Tuesday by a group of centrist Democrats.

The message: under Democrats, Hispanics will "have a better life."

The New Democrat Network's latest wave of Spanish-language TV ads will run on local stations in 10 media markets in New Mexico, Arizona, Florida and Nevada.

The new commercials, a 30-second spot and a 60-second spot, feature testimonials by Rep. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, Raul Martinez, mayor of Hialeah, Fla., Adolfo Carrion, county executive of the Bronx borough in New York City, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Richardson says in the longer version: "As a Democrat, my priority has always been to help our community so that all Hispanics can have a better life."

Martinez adds: "I support our public schools, for they are the vehicle for our children to obtain a good education."

The group has spent at least $1 million so far on ads since March, part of what it hopes will end up being a $5 million TV and radio ad campaign targeting Hispanics, arguably the nation's most volatile voting demographic.

Latino Registration Drive Planned

Groups seek 500,000 new voters in U.S.

Elvia Díaz

April 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved.

National and local organizations are launching an ambitious effort to register at least 500,000 Latinos across the country.

They will try to lure a record number of the nation's largest minority to the polls during this year's race for the White House.

The ultimate goal is to have 10 million Latinos registered to vote by Nov. 2, including about 400,000 in Arizona, said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voter Education and Registration Project. Currently, about 300,000 Latinos are registered to vote in Arizona.

"It would make a big difference, not only in the outcome of the elections but the character of the state," Gonzalez said during a news conference about the thousands of potential new Latino voters.

Gonzalez's group is joining forces with the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and the Hispanic Federation.

The goal is realistic because the groups will spend millions of dollars in the effort, Gonzalez said. His organization plans to spend $5 million for the voter-registration campaign, he added.

Latinos make up roughly 13.4 percent of the nation's population. In Arizona Latinos represent about 25 percent of the population. Hispanics and other minority groups are expected to play a key role in this year's presidential election.

To encourage more of them to cast a ballot, the national groups, including some in Arizona, will comb the neighborhoods, call potential voters and set up registration tables at grocery stores and video rental shops.

Raphael Bear, president of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, joined the voter registration effort.

"For the past few decades, Latinos and American Indians have become a formidable political and economic force in Arizona and throughout the country," Bear said. "We have the opportunity to directly impact the outcome of the presidential general election."

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