"Our theory of change is that when Latinos are on the ballot, Latinos are running a campaign to encourage Latinos to come out and vote," says Nathalie Rayes, the President and CEO of Latino Victory.
Founded in 2014, Latino Victory's work focuses on building political power in the Latino community by supporting progressive Latino elected officials, Latino voter participation, and Latino political donations. The organization's vision is making Latino voters a deciding factor in elections throughout the country.
In an exclusive interview with LPO, Rayes said that Latino Victory has a "robust list" of endorsed candidates that the organization will be rolling out over the course of the next several months.
"We want to ensure that they have the resources, the human capital behind them and the backing of folks. One of those hurdles barriers to entry is really resources," stated Rayes.
A total of 469 seats in the U.S. Congress- 34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats- as well as 36 governorships are up for election on November 8, 2022.
"In 2020, we at Latino Victory endorsed around 86 candidates at the state, local, and federal level," she said. "In 2022, we hope that we have a robust slate that we will endorse. We know that there's plenty of people running for high offices, from Governor of Maryland to Governor of Arizona, even Governor of Rhode Island."
The former Vice President of Public Affairs for Grupo Salinas also said that "From gubernatorial races to senatorial races, to lieutenant governor races to even local races, I think that there will be plenty of Latinos running in 2022."
"And that's critically important- meeting Latino voters where they are at. We know that our candidates do a superb job in doing that and in understanding that Latinos are not a monolith," she added. "We have to speak to them in what they care about, in their language, and ensuring that we are bringing forward an agenda that makes sense for Latinos across the country."
On Thursday, the Census Bureau released the data used to draw congressional and state legislative district lines, which could affect Latino voters and Latino representation in next year's midterm elections.
"When redistricting comes around, we're always concerned about it," said Rayes. "But, Latinos are a growing population in the United States, so regardless of how they try and draw the lines, we are hoping that they can drop out of existence. We will continue being that strong electric pool and we have candidates at grade level running. We're being really proactive to ensuring that that's the case."
Additionally, Rayes said that Latino Victory believes that voting is equally - if not more - important than voter registrations.
"The numbers don't lie and we saw a 30% increase of voters turning out in 2020 and 2016. That's significant. We're hoping and ensuring that in 2022 and beyond, those numbers keep increasing. We are engaging Latino voters all the time, not just during the election cycle, but all throughout the years leading up to an election."
"We are all working to ensure that we have a high turnout in 2022," Rayes added. "Hopefully the pandemic will be under control and folks can actually go to the voting booth."
Across the country, the effort to restrict the vote continues, with a wave of bills moving through state legislatures and becoming law.
"Anybody that wants to vote, that is eligible to vote, should be able to vote in the United States of America. There are a lot of restrictions that many states are pushing, that we are obviously very much against. The numbers don't lie and we saw a 30% increase in the Latino vote during the worst time in our economic history and health history with a major pandemic. With the continuous work that we will continue doing, we are going to see an increase on that 30% between 2016 and 2020," she said.
On August 3, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a meeting with Latino leaders at the White House to address the effects the economic impact of the pandemic had on Hispanic communities, but also to win over more Latino voters after last year's election.
Latino Victory was one of 12 organizations invited to attend the event.
"It was a very important meeting that we had at the White House that was close to two hours long with the President and the Vice President of the United States, which is pretty emblematic of how important this community is [to the administration]. It was only 12 of us. We talked about four major issues: voting rights, immigration, COVID relief, and the economy, which I think goes hand in hand, and representation."
"At Latino Victory, although we're not focused on policy, we ensure that we have candidates that are working day and night to ensure that our economy is an economy that works for all," she added. "We were very pleased to see the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Bill and the Reconciliation Budget that came through from the president, basically ensuring that we have good paying jobs for our people."
"Our folks are feeling so much pain, not only from COVID, but from years before of lack of infrastructure building and lack of good paying jobs. We must ensure that healthcare and access to healthcare, especially as it relates to COVID and beyond, is not only a thing for the elite, but I something that is accessible for all of us," said the CEO.
Finally, when asked about the organization's involvement in the California recall election, Rayes said that the organization believes Governor Gavin Newsom "has done a great job: and should not be recalled".
"We are against recalling him. Latino Victory is all about progressive Latino candidates. I don't see us getting involved in that election," she said.
"The only time that we make an exception is obviously in the Presidential race when we endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States."
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