By Janet Murguía, UnidosUS President and CEO
On Tuesday, February 18, I boarded a plane from our nation’s capital to the First in the West caucuses in Nevada for what would become a jam-packed week where the power of the Latino community was on full display.
As the first state in the primaries with a booming Latino electorate — nearly 30 percent of the state’s total population — Nevada offers an early glimpse into Latino voters in 2020.
Upon landing in Nevada, I headed to East Las Vegas, a vibrant neighborhood that many Latinos in the city call home and whose concerns reflect the full range of Latino priorities.
Our community is poised to be the largest minority voting bloc in 2020 and will play a decisive role in local contests across the country.
UnidosUS worked alongside our sister-organization Mi Familia Vota to gather eight of the nation’s major Latino civic engagement organizations in a show of unity just days ahead of the Nevada caucuses and less than a month ahead of the start of the decennial census.
We highlighted the power of the Latino electorate and addressed the issues our community cares most about: jobs and the economy, healthcare, immigration, and housing.
The economy and tax services for Nevadans
I also joined U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina in history of United States Senate, along with Congressman Steven Horsford, the first African American member of Congress from Nevada, for a community event in North Las Vegas to discuss the economic concerns of Latinos in the state and how tax policy affects the Latino community, including the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
Both Sen. Cortez Masto and Rep. Horsford have worked alongside UnidosUS in Washington, where they have been champions for the the well-being of our community in Congress. During this event, our Affiliate Community Services of Nevada, with the participation of our partner CPLC Nevada, organized and offered onsite free tax services to families.
I participated in a power breakfast panel with Latina leaders in Nevada and also had the chance to meet with Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, the first Latina to ever serve in the Nevada Senate. (Nevada is also the nation’s first majority-female legislature.) Cancela invited me to her district for a delicious breakfast at iconic Mexican restaurant Casa Don Juan — which I highly recommend!
When Sen. Cancela is not chairing Nevada’s Senate Growth and Infrastructure Committee, working to lower health insurance costs and raising the minimum wage, she serves as the executive director of the Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project. It’s Nevada’s only organization to offer free help with naturalization applications. She is a powerful Latina and we are proud to call her a friend of UnidosUS.
The kick-off to the 2020 UnidosUS Annual Conference in Las Vegas
In July UnidosUS will host our 2020 Annual Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, so I also had the chance to meet with local Latino community leaders to preview the event and get their feedback and assistance on how to best engage with the Las Vegas community.
Since this year’s Conference takes place in the midst of the 2020 election, much of our program will focus on empowering our community, mobilizing the Latino electorate and promoting participation in the 2020 Census. We will showcase speakers and sessions to inform our attendees on the pressing issues in education, the economy, health, housing, and immigration, as well as engage in discussions around the importance of getting our community to register and vote.
Amplifying the Power of the Latino Vote
Considering the Latino community’s growing influence in national politics, news outlets around the country are vying to cover us. We need to make sure our voice is heard, our issues are highlighted, and the community is accurately depicted. So I, along with various UnidosUS experts, engaged proactively with both local and national media to provide analysis and insight on the Latino electorate and spotlight some of our recent research.
A lot of this work and outreach has paid off. According to early results, nearly 20 percent of the total voter turnout in Nevada was attributed to Latino voters.
Below are some highlights of media coverage from last week:
Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS, joins Andrea Mitchell to analyze the policy and outreach efforts by Democratic candidates to appeal to Latino voters, a key voting bloc in the Nevada Caucuses.
Nevada is the next state up in the Democratic nominating process, and it is the first state with a truly diverse electorate. Candidates are trying to appeal to the state’s large Latino population.
Reid’s 2010 Senate reelection race was “a textbook example” of how to do it, said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the Latino advocacy organization UnidosUS. He invested in efforts to register voters, engaged with Latino community leaders, and pushed for legislation to aid young people brought into the country illegally as children, she said.
Nevada’s population is nearly 30% Latino or Hispanic, and this growing segment of the population is finding its political voice. President & CEO of Unidos US, Janet Murguía, joins Ali Velshi to share which issues are on the minds of Latino voters.
NPR’s Rachel Martin talks to political strategist Lauren Harper and Janet Murguía of the Latino advocacy group UnidosUS about Nevada’s Latino voters and South Carolina’s African American voters.
Hasta la próxima
As we look ahead to the upcoming primaries on March 3 (Super Tuesday) and March 17, UnidosUS will engage our local communities and continue to amplify the critical importance of the Latino vote, especially in priority states such as Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas.