LAS VEGAS — A prominent national Latino group is endorsing Bernie Sanders four days ahead of the caucuses in Nevada, a state with a significant Hispanic electorate.
Mijente, a grass-roots organization that mobilizes Latinx and Chicanx voters, decided to make its first-ever presidential endorsement in response to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies targeting Latinos. The endorsement adds to the growing collection of progressive groups coalescing around the Vermont senator, after earlier expectations they would be divided between him and Elizabeth Warren.
The organization will use its reach on social media, its roughly 1,000 dues-paying members and more than 300,000-person email list to mobilize Latinos to vote and hit the pavement for Sanders in Nevada and other states.
Marisa Franco, director and cofounder of Mijente, said the group’s members picked Sanders after a lengthy process that included sit-downs with multiple candidates. In January, its members voted on four options: endorsing Sanders, Warren, both of them, or no endorsement at all. In the end, 70 percent of its members voted to endorse Sanders.
Sanders’ economic justice platform and moratorium on deportations were key to Mijente’s members in addition to Sanders’ exhaustive outreach to Latinos this cycle.
“Something that’s very appealing to people is his consistency and the concept of palabra,” said Franco, “And what that means in our community is giving people your ‘word.’”
Mijente held public talks, called “El Chisme 2020,” which means the gossip, with Sanders, Warren and Julián Castro last year. The decision to back Sanders isn’t meant as a negative commentary on Warren, Franco said, but rather as a way to maximize the group’s sway in the primary.
Sanders’ name recognition and ability to build off of his 2016 infrastructure and liberal base also factored into Mijente’s endorsement as the primary heads into more diverse states.
“We’re not picking a savior, we’re picking our target,” Franco said, noting that the group’s membership intends to hold Sanders accountable. “We didn’t pick him to be the fixer of all things.”
Part of Mijente’s influence among Latinos includes its use of art, culture and digital media to reach Latinos politically.
Tomás Garduño, national field director for Mijente, said the group intends to knock on doors and phone bank for Sanders in the final days before the Saturday caucus in Nevada, which will be Sanders’ first real test with Latino voters.
In the key Super Tuesday states of North Carolina, California, and Texas, the group will run a volunteer effort aiming to activate more than 500 people to commit to phone banks and door knocking for Sanders.
Mijente will also focus heavily on the Arizona and Georgia primaries. In 2016, the Latinx group played a role in mobilizing Latinos to oust former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who illegally detained Latinos. In 2018, Mijente contributed to driving Latino turnout in the Georgia governor’s race, which more than doubled compared to 2014.
Sanders’ Nevada state director, Sarah Michelson, said the endorsement validates his standing among Latinos, a constituency key to his success.
“It continues to build momentum that every single progressive, immigrant-focused, Latino organization has lined up behind us,” said Michelson, adding that it helps Sanders “drive home the point” that his campaign can win a broad coalition.
Sanders has upped his outreach to Latinos compared to 2016, making the demographic a key part of his pathway to the Democratic nomination. He consistently polls in the top two with Latinos next to former Vice President Joe Biden.
Author: LAURA BARRÓN-LÓPEZ
Source: Politico: Major Latino Group Makes First-Ever Presidential Endorsement