Dem-aligned group targets displaced Puerto Rican voters ahead of midterms

A group aligned with Democrats is launching an ad campaign in two states targeting the more than 136,000 estimated Puerto Ricans who relocated to the U.S. mainland following damage caused by two hurricanes last year.

People for the American Way's Latinos Vote! campaign announced Tuesday that it would launch a television ad on Spanish-language stations in Orlando, and target English- and Spanish-speaking voters elsewhere in Florida and Pennsylvania with an ad urging voters to turn out for November's midterm elections.


The ads, featuring Puerto Rican actress and singer Rita Moreno, urge voters to create a "hurricane of change" in November to push back against the slow response to repair Puerto Rico's damaged infrastructure.

“These elections are so critical for our community. We have much at stake, which is why it’s so important that we register and make sure our voices are heard,” Moreno said in a statement.

"Too many in Washington think our needs can be ignored. Showing up at the ballot box is the best way to tell our elected officials that Puerto Ricans deserve the same respect and fair treatment as every other American," she added.

Millions were left without power last year after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island. Hurricane Maria proved to be especially disastrous for the island and led to confusion about the resulting death toll, with media outlets and academic suggesting it is significantly higher than the government's official death toll of 64. The Trump administration faced criticism for the recovery efforts, with many noting that areas on the U.S. mainland affected by other hurricanes appeared to be rebuilt faster.

People for the American Way's political director Lizet Ocampo said in a statement that the ads will help build tangible opposition to President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE's "hate and disrespect" for Puerto Rico's more than 3 million U.S. citizens.

“Puerto Ricans who moved to the mainland are residents and can register to vote today. They have the power to make a huge impact in the 2018 election cycle. That’s why we’re putting a special focus on reaching out to Puerto Ricans, especially in swing states, to make sure they understand that they can stand up for themselves against the hate and disrespect of Donald Trump and his allies," she said.

Democrats are heading in to the midterms with an advantage on a generic House ballot that has shrunk in recent months. The party needs a net gain of 23 seats to obtain a majority in the House, and two in the Senate where Democrats face an uphill battle as several vulnerable members of their own party are up for reelection.