Hispanic Caucus picks Linda Sánchez to lead campaign arm

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) speaks at a press conference.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) speaks at a press conference.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Wednesday announced California Democratic Rep. Linda Sánchez will lead the group’s campaign arm.

Sánchez won chairmanship of Bold PAC, the campaign group, in a closed-ballot vote against fellow California Democratic Rep. Norma Torres.

“I just wanted to run for Bold PAC, because I think the next election cycle is going to be a critical one, and I believe we can win back the House,” Sánchez told The Hill.

“And I believe that the majority in the House for Democrats runs through Bold. There are a lot of really talented Latina and Latino candidates out there, and if we get involved early in encouraging them to run for office and supporting them with the resources they need, I think we can be successful.”

Sánchez will replace Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who will step down as head of Bold PAC at the end of the quarter to focus on his campaign to oust Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.).

“Incoming Chairwoman Linda Sánchez is a steadfast champion for hard-working families in California and across America. For over 20 years, she has been a trailblazer and relentless fighter for progressive values — including being the first Latina elected to a leadership position in Congress,” Gallego said in a statement. 

“She’s made history again as the first woman elected to lead BOLD PAC and on the first day of Women’s History Month, I’m especially excited to celebrate her election,” he added.

With Sánchez at the head of Bold PAC, women from California will lead two of the CHC’s branches — Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif) is the CHC chair, a position that determines the political direction of the caucus as a whole.

CHC Vice Chair Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), the group’s educational branch.

Sánchez, a former labor lawyer, has been active in candidate recruitment for the CHC for years.

Ahead of the 2016 midterms, she and Gallego teamed up to recruit Barragán to run against a candidate supported by retiring incumbent former Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.).

“It’s always gratifying when you see talent early on, and you encourage that talent. Nanette is perhaps one of the best examples of a candidate that nobody believed in, but I did and ultimately Bold did, and we committed the resources, and she’s here today because of that effort,” Sánchez said.

The group has also given the CHC independence from party leadership, while providing a springboard for its members to rise in politics.

Gallego, for instance, is trading in a successful run at the helm of Bold PAC for a shot at Sinema’s Senate seat, and now-Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) catapulted his career after Bold PAC, leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), being appointed assistant Speaker of the House, and mounting a successful Senate run in 2020.

Bold PAC’s growth took off after Luján’s leadership of the group in the 2014 election cycle, and ballooned under Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Gallego, setting a benchmark for other congressional caucus-based campaign organizations.

The group, which was originally founded to help protect CHC incumbents, has diversified into recruiting new CHC challengers and supporting some of the group’s allies.

In one instance in the 2022 cycle, Bold PAC butted heads in a Democratic primary against the party’s leadership caucus and a huge cryptocurrency investment, and came out on top.

The group’s growth in large part has moved in parallel with its fundraising success.

Ahead of the 2014 cycle, it raised less than a million dollars, a figure which jumped to more than $6 million ahead of 2016, $11 million for 2018, $18 million for 2020 and $12 million for 2022, a midterm election.

CHC members have pushed for — and benefited from — Bold PAC’s growth, often complaining about cultural competency and flat-footed minority outreach in other institutions within the party’s campaign apparatus.

“Historically, our candidates have been underfunded, and the party doesn’t always, you know, recognize the value in investing in our candidates. I think over time, that’s what we started to change. And with [Rep.] Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) at the DCCC — she’s my seatmate on Ways and Means — I hope to coordinate better with the DCCC,” Sánchez said.

In 2022, the group made $6 million in direct investments for Latino candidates, with members like Sánchez and Cárdenas deeply involved in Bold PAC’s independent expenditures program.

Gallego, announcing the end of his tenure, touted the professionalization of Bold PAC, saying he didn’t know and had “no concerns either” about who would lead the group, even before Sánchez and Torres announced their bids.

Sánchez told The Hill her tenure at Bold PAC will be a “natural continuation” of her previous work in the CHC.

“All the years that I’ve served in Congress, I’ve been recruiting candidates, I’ve been campaigning for candidates, I’ve been funding candidates, I’ve been trying to elevate our members once they get elected to the right committee assignments and introducing them to other ways in which they can participate here on the Hill and grow our power, grow our gravitas here on the Hill. So it’s just a natural extension of that,” she said.

Tags Kyrsten Sinema Linda Sanchez Nanette Diaz Barragán Norma Torres Ruben Gallego

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