Padilla will run in simultaneous elections next year – a special election to end Harris’ remaining term through 2023 and a regular election for a full six-year term.
The plan is to use Padilla’s popularity – especially among Latinos – to increase the turnout of Latinos in the state, where they make up about 30 percent of the electorate. Part of the goal, say Latino Democratic officials and leaders, is to achieve democratic victories in high-population Latino districts that the party has overlooked in the past.
“We want to harness Padilla’s momentum as the first Latino Senator to attract new and young voters,” said Christopher Guerrero, vice president of J&Z Strategies in California, who is working with Nuestro PAC on the effort. “We know that taking it out will also drip down and affect other tickets in the state – and Nuestro PAC is keen to win back the seats we lost in 2020.”
Efforts will focus on seats currently held by Republican MPs David Valadao, Mike Garcia, Young Kim, Michelle Steel and Darrell Issa. In three of these counties, a Republican ousted a Democratic incumbent. In early 2020, Garcia flipped his district in a special election following the resignation of Democratic MP Katie Hill.
Guerrero, who served on Padilla’s Senate transition team, said most of the targeted seats are in Orange County and southeastern Los Angeles County, where the Latino population has increased “and not much contact with the” community as a new voters. ”
“Latinos are such a big part of these districts that if we make an effort to speak to them together, we can hide them and color those districts blue,” said Eileen Garcia, executive director of Nuestro PAC.
The reallocation process in California – spearheaded by an independent citizens’ commission – is still ongoing, which means the state won’t have a definitive map in several months. The commission is set to release official draft cards on November 10th.
California will lose a seat in Congress for the first time in its history, reducing the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 53 to 52.
State and national Latino Democrats have long urged the Democratic Party to invest more in early public relations – as opposed to the last few weeks of a campaign – to get Latinos to vote. These calls were particularly loud after the 2020 elections among Latinos across the country gradually shifted towards Donald Trump.
Latino Democrats see California as the primary reason for these investments because Latino voters make up a sizable segment of the electorate and are younger in age.
In the recent gubernatorial election, an estimated 78 percent of Latinos voted no Analysis of UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Initiative. In southern California, Latino support for Newsom was over 75 percent, even in historically Republican locations like Orange and Riverside Counties. Only 40 percent of non-Latinos voted no in orange, and 45 percent of non-Latinos voted no in Riverside.
In Merced County, a majority Latino county in the state’s Central Valley, 76 percent of Latinos voted against the recall, compared with 15 percent of non-Latinos, according to UCLA analysis.
Nuestro PAC, founded by Bernie Sanders campaign alum Chuck Rocha, is kicking off its campaign with digital ads and will later offer direct mail and TV spots in English and Spanish.
Earlier this month, the Latino Victory Fund announced that it would support Padilla, the son of working-class Mexican immigrants, for his first full term in the Senate. The progressive group noted that he has “already made a name for himself in the Senate as a staunch advocate of voting rights, immigrant rights, access to health care and working on the recovery from Covid-19”.
Padilla, the former California Secretary of State, has become a leading figure on Capitol Hill in pushing for voting laws to be passed and immigration reform incorporated into President Joe Biden’s comprehensive social spending plan.
Some California Democrats argue that the party must pledge to raise Padilla’s name nationally as part of its efforts to connect with Latino voters. There are already signs that his worth as a substitute is being recognized: Padilla campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Northern Virginia on Wednesday night.
“Sen. Padilla will play a key role in not only ensuring that Latino voters who were mobilized in the recall of 21 are prepared for the mid-term elections of 22, but also to get other voters out across the country, ”said Sonja Diaz, founding member of Director of UCLA’s Latino Politics and Policy Initiative.
“The Democratic Party must ally around Senator Padilla’s future to ensure he gets the relevant presence and attention to create a national donor base,” she added. “It is important to increase the enthusiasm in the party.”