Pro-choice Latina group launches incumbent protection campaign

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) speaks to a reporter as she arrives before President Biden arrives for a Democratic caucus luncheon at the Senate Russell Office building to discuss voting rights and filibuster reform on Thursday, January 13, 2022.
Greg Nash

A group dedicated to supporting pro-choice Democratic Latinas running for office will announce a campaign on Thursday to protect one Senate and nine House incumbents in November. 

Poder PAC is launching its five-figure “Poderosas 2022 Protection Program” following a similar effort in February to support pro-choice Latina challengers.

“With reproductive rights under attack, it’s imperative we re-elect all of our pro-choice Democratic Latinas in Congress – including our first and only Latina U.S senator,” said Poder PAC Board Chair Ingrid Duran in a statement.

Poder PAC has since 2008 endorsed Latina challengers in state, local and federal elections, but this campaign is its first incumbent protection program.

Aside from investment in the campaigns, Poder PAC’s endorsement is intended to help the candidates fundraise and connect with voters and stakeholders in their constituencies.

At the top of Poder PAC’s protection list is Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina ever elected to the Senate and a top target for Republicans this year.

The list also includes nine House members, including Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), whose race is listed on Cook Political Report’s catalog of competitive races as “likely Democratic.”

Along with Cortez Masto and Leger Fernández, the 2022 incumbent protection list includes California Democratic Reps. Norma Torres and Nanette Barragán, Texas Democratic Reps. Verónica Escobar and Sylvia García and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), all of whom were supported by Poder PAC as challengers.

The campaign will also support California Democratic Reps. Grace Napolitano and Linda Sánchez, as well as New York Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez — all of whom were first elected before Poder PAC began operations in 2008.

Poder PAC is the only group solely dedicated to supporting pro-choice Latinas, and it supported more than 90 percent of the Democratic Latinas in the current Congress.

Initially, the group focused on supporting pro-choice Latinas in local and state races, but since 2015 has exclusively endorsed House and Senate candidates, both in primaries and general elections.

According to a Pew Research survey from 2021, 58 percent of U.S. Hispanics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

The issue of reproductive rights has traditionally been divisive in the Hispanic community, as cultural and religious mores compete with socioeconomic realities and changing generational perspectives.

But the changing composition of the Supreme Court and new anti-abortion legislation in states like Texas has brought political immediacy to the issue, which disproportionately affects low-income women.

More than 11 million Hispanics currently live in Texas, where a law enacted in September has severely restricted the possibility of getting an in-state abortion for most pregnancies.  

According to Poder PAC, only 10 of the 435 House members are pro-choice Latinas, slightly more than 2 percent of the body.

The 2020 Census counted more than 30 million Latinas, nearly 9.4 percent of the population of the United States.

“Pro-Choice Democratic Latinas in Congress are a firewall against those trying to curtail reproductive freedoms and that’s why we’re launching the Poderosas 2022 Protection Program. We are prepared to do our part to ensure their continued success this November and beyond,” said Duran. 

Tags 6-week pregnancy Abortion Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Catherine Cortez Masto Grace Napolitano Norma Torres Poder PAC pro-choice Texas abortion law

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