Advocacy group releases interactive map to help Latinos run for office

Advocacy group releases interactive map to help Latinos run for office
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A Latino advocacy group is releasing a new online tool to help prospective candidates run in districts where Hispanics are underrepresented.

The interactive map commissioned by Latino Victory Project cross-references Latino populations for candidates running at the federal, state and local level throughout the country.

“What this tool does is it allows candidates, party committees, our community to be strategic in thinking about where to invest in candidates, in races and in our future,” said Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project.

The interactive map will officially be released on June 1.

The goal of the project is to increase the power of Hispanics at the ballot box.

While Hispanics have grown as a demographic force — Latinos are the second-fastest growing minority after Asian-Americans — democratic representation has lagged.

According to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, there are currently 6,600 Hispanic elected officials countrywide, out of more than half a million total positions.

Of the nearly 45,000 federal, state and county positions covered by the map, less than 5 percent are held by Latinos.

In Congress, there are 34 Hispanic representatives and four Hispanic Senators.

That’s proportionately much lower than the 17 percent of the population that is Latino.

Using the map, developed with data analytics firm BlueLabs, Latino Victory found nine congressional districts, 21 state senate districts and 46 lower state House districts that are majority Hispanic but are not represented by Latinos.

With the interactive map, Alex said, prospective Hispanic candidates will be able to pick national, state and local seats where Latinos are underrepresented, and avoid oversaturating other races.

“One of the goals in terms of being strategic is ... we do have some concerns where in some districts multiple candidates could create a situation where none of our candidates make it through,” he said.

“This map we hope will allow folks to look at the district level and make important decisions.”

The map shows a national breakdown of congressional districts, state senate districts, state house districts and county seats highlighting Latino-majority and Latino-represented jurisdictions.

Latino Victory, a group dedicated to increasing Hispanic political representation, is publishing the map in hopes of expanding the number of races in which Latinos can compete.

Alex believes President TrumpDonald John TrumpReturn hope to the Middle East by returning to the Iran Deal Government shutdowns tend to increase government spending 'Full Frontal' gives six-bedroom house to group that works with detained immigrants MORE’s election could help get more Latinos involved in politics.

“What I believe is the silver lining of Trump's presidency is he's become the greatest Latino political organizer in history,” he said.

Voto Latino and other groups are seeing more Hispanics looking to participate in the electoral process.

Hispanic voter participation has historically been low, though population growth has bolstered voting totals.

About 12.7 million Latinos voted in 2016, up from 11.2 million in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center.

Still, 26.7 million Hispanics were eligible to vote.

Alex sees untapped potential in states such as Texas, where a quarter of all U.S. Latinos live.

“This is not a sleeping giant, it's a giant that's beginning to flex its muscle in a way that will reverberate for the next several cycles,” he said.

“Now we need to focus that giant on where we can expand our political power, and that is into districts where we don't have representation currently but we should,” he added.