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Politics / politics

House Democrats Diversifying Recruiting Class

Former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez smiles beside his wife Adela as he announces his candidacy for Congress from California's 10th congressional district Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, in Modesto, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Image 3 of 20(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

October 12, 2011
Having a deep political farm team, filled with candidates who would be future senatorial and gubernatorial prospects, is very important for the national parties. Many of the 18 current Hispanic Democrats in Congress hail from safe districts, drawn to elect Latino elected officials. Most wouldn't be logical candidates to run for higher office, because they've catered primarily to narrow constituencies rather than to the broader electorate. As I wrote in a column last year, of the 75 black, Hispanic and Asian-American Democrats in Congress, only nine represent majority-white constituencies. A House Democratic campaign official said that the campaign committee is specifically focused on landing a diverse crop of recruits - including many whose background is not in politics. They are acutely aware of the anti-Washington mood, and aren't automatically turning to state legislative leaders. Republicans made inroads in diversifying their Congressional caucus in last year's midterms. They elected five Hispanic freshmen, and now have eight Hispanic Republicans in Congress. Given their successes in 2010, they have fewer races to challenge this time around, but also have recruited several Latino candidates, including former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado (against Rep. Lois Capps) and state Assemblyman David Valadao, who could end up challenging Rubio.
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