House Democrats Diversifying Recruiting Class
My column today looked at the challenges national Democrats are facing in landing a marquee Hispanic candidate for statewide office this election cycle. I argued that President Obama's effort to personally recruit former Bush Surgeon General Richard Carmona into the Arizona Senate race is a telltale sign of how important it is for Democrats to have a diverse crop of Senate candidates.
But House Democrats are having much more success on that front, landing a number of compelling Hispanic recruits - not just in gerrymandered seats drawn to elect Latinos but in swing districts that the party is looking to pick up in 2012.
The biggest potential star on the scene is astronaut Jose Hernandez, who just kicked off his campaign against freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. He's the son of migrant farm workers who has a made-for-TV story. He learned to speak English when he was 12, and later became a research engineer for NASA. In a Republican-leaning south Florida district, Democrats landed Luis Garcia, the first Cuban-American fire-chief of Miami, to run against scandal-plagued Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla. Former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez, a centrist Democrat, is running for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.
There are several other Hispanic Democratic recruits in the pipeline, preparing to run for battleground seats: State senator Michael Rubio is preparing to run for a newly-drawn seat in California's Central Valley - in a race that is shaping up to be a major barnburner. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen is looking to run in a new district in Nevada that will have sizable Hispanic representation.