DCCC picks Cuellar, Lujan to lead Latino efforts

"More than half of House Democrats are minorities or women, and we are determined to have a caucus that not only looks like America, but stands for the American Dream," Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "Representatives Cuellar and Lujan are proven leaders — and they will bring the issues that are important to the Latino community front and center for our members and our candidates, while ensuring that we recruit and support strong Latino candidates and candidates who stand with the Latino community."

The two will focus on finding and supporting both Latino candidates and non-Hispanic candidates in heavily Latino areas, according to the release.

Both come from the southwest, a key region in Democrats' battle to cut into the GOP's House majority. Many of the potentially competitive seats on the 2014 House map are in Latino-heavy districts in that region, including in California's Central Valley, Colorado and Nevada.

A number potentially vulnerable Democrats also hail from districts where Latino turnout could make or break their reelection bids. Hispanic Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.), Pete Gallego (D-Texas) and Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) as well as non-Hispanic Reps. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) are all on the DCCC's "Frontline" list of candidates who could face tough races, and all come from districts with large Latino populations.

Cuellar's state of Texas is also key for Democrats, though its importance to the party is likely still a few years away since the state's fast-growing Hispanic population has been packed into a few districts by redistricting. But there's a chance that the state's congressional map gets redrawn before the next election, depending on court rulings and what the state legislature does.

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