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Will Democrats Engage Texas Latino Voters?

Pelosi touted unprecedented Latino outreach at an event in Houston’s historic East End

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and State Senator Sylvia Garcia (District 6) listen to Latino organizers in Houston’s East End.

Whether or not politicians engage Latino voters could play a key role in upcoming midterm elections, especially with issues like immigration at the forefront of national debates. However, some reports suggest failures in Democratic outreach to Latino voters

During her visit to Houston this week, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed Latino issues and voter engagement at an event alongside State Senator Sylvia Garcia (District 6), who is likely to become one of the first Latina Congresswomen from Texas. 

At the event, Pelosi pointed to the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) as evidence of the party’s commitment to outreach.

“Our chairman of our committee is Latino, Ben Ray Luján from New Mexico, and he has made it a priority in terms of the right thing to do from the start of his chairmanship to do outreach into the Latino community,” said Pelosi. 

“We have to have strong Latino participation,” she said, touting unprecedented Latino outreach by the committee. 

“There’s never enough, but this is the most anybody has seen in terms of what we’re doing in the party and what we are doing with our affiliate groups outside,” said Pelosi.

In a written statement, DCCC Hispanic Media Director Javier Gamboa outlined six battleground districts for Democrats in Texas with a 10 percent or higher Hispanic electorate: TX-02, TX-07, TX-21, TX-23, TX-31 and TX-32. 

“Latino voters will be key for Democrats to win in Texas’ most competitive races, like Rep. John Culberson’s district,” Gamboa said, “The DCCC does not take a single voter or community for granted, and that’s why we’re investing an unprecedented amount of resources to connect with and turn out diverse voters across the country for Democrats this November.” 

In the last presidential election, some 3 million eligible Latino voters in Texas didn’t cast a ballot.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of the state’s eligible voters are Latino, according to Pew Research. And that number is likely to grow, considering that approximately one-third of the Latino population nationwide is under 18.

Latino Voters in Harris County

In Harris County, voter demographic history is already being made. Whites are no longer the majority of registered voters, according to voter registration data. An increasing number of the county’s Latino residents are registering to vote, while older white voters are dying off. 

Primary elections in Harris County also showed the number of Latino voters who cast their ballot more than doubled compared to the 2014 primary. Experts have attributed this spike in participation to an increasingly polarized political climate, especially around the immigration debate, and strong Latino candidates. 

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