Record number of Hispanics serving in Congress, AZ legislature

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A record number of Hispanics now serve in office. In early January, 14 new Latinos were sworn into Congress in bringing the number of Latinos serving in Congress to a record-breaking 47. In Arizona, Hispanics make up about one-third of the legislature. Here to discuss is Lorna Romero Ferguson, owner of Elevate Strategies and Jason Barraza, a partner at Veridus, a consulting firm.

Did you expect to see this kind of success?

Ferguson said she was “cautiously optimistic,” due to Republican efforts the past few elections to recruit Latinos to run for office and to join the Republican party.

“Before, I think the narrative was, there was an assumption with Republicans that ‘Latinos were automatically going to vote for Democrats’, there wasn’t really that outreach effort, and now the paradigm has shifted,” Ferguson said.  “I think it really proves that Republicans really have a lane when it comes to recruiting Hispanics.”

Was the outreach stepped up on both sides?

Yes, said Barraza. He noted that Hispanics are becoming an increasing political presence, both in national and Arizona politics.

“They’re getting more and more politically engaged, more and more politically aware, and the natural result of that is more and more of them are taking that step to sign up and put their name on a ballot.” 

What does the increase in Republican affiliation among Latino voters mean for Arizona’s Latino community?

Ferguson and Barraza agreed that the split in party affiliation helped to buck the perception that the Hispanic community exists as a uniform voting bloc.

 “You see there’s a lot of diversity in thought and opinion, and it’s actually being embraced, which I appreciate. And so, even Democrats are no longer taking some of these voters for granted, realizing that they have to broaden their message, and republicans seeing that they have an opportunity with some of these folks,” Ferguson said.

“Those of us who have been in the community for many years know that that’s not true. We are not a uniform body. There’s a lot of diversity amongst ideology, amongst cultures even within our community, and that provides the opportunity for, yes, there’s going to be Democrats, there’s going to be Republicans,” Barraza said.

Lorna Romero Ferguson- Owner, Elevate Strategies
Jason Barraza- Partner, Veridus

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