Will We Have A Latino Vice President Or Nah?
It’s been reported that Hillary Clinton will announce her running mate on Friday, just days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off. A lot of names have been suggested for the Vice President position. Among them are the three prominent Latino politicians you see below.
— Latinos Media Equity (@Latinos4MediaEq) July 5, 2016
Julian Castro is the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) — an Obama cabinet position — and former mayor of San Antonio. His national profile rose after delivering the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Castro is endorsed by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It also doesn’t hurt that he stumped for Clinton in Iowa, a move which some saw as trial run. The New York Times even listed the Mexican-American from Texas as a potential running mate.
Despite being the most cited Latino in Clinton’s VP short list, Castro comes with a little baggage. Back in April, a coalition of progressive groups tried to discredit him over an obscure HUD policy. The TLDR version of the attack was that Castro was allegedly making it easier for Wall Street to buy bad HUD-owned mortgages on the cheap. Several Latino political operatives saw this assault on Castro as an attack by white progressive groups throwing a Latino under the bus, which yeah, it kind of really was. But that’s not all. Castro recently violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from making political statements while on official business.
Thomas Perez is the current Secretary of Labor, also serving in Obama’s cabinet. We wrote a quick primer on him back in March, but in case you didn’t read that, here’s what you need to know: He’s Dominican-American, he was an assistant attorney general who focused on civil rights violations, and he’s a progressive in the vein of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. In fact, Warren once suggested Perez as possible VP pick to prominent Democrats at a party, according to Politico.
The biggest drawback to Perez is that people don’t really know who he is, and there’s no guarantee that Mexican-Americans, who make up nearly 65 percent of the total U.S. population, will be swayed by a candidate simply because he has a Spanish last name. If that were the case, something tells us that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would’ve fared a lot better during their failed GOP presidential runs.
— NYT National News (@NYTNational) May 10, 2016
Xavier Becerra is the fourth-highest ranking Democratic legislator, serving as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. He represents California’s 34th congressional district, which includes downtown Los Angeles and the city’s Latino-heavy Boyle Heights neighborhood. Given that his district is immigrant-heavy and he himself is the child of immigrants, comprehensive immigration reform is one of Becerra’s most important issues. Becerra has also campaigned several times alongside Clinton in Latino-heavy regions, which is why his name has been mentioned in the first place.
There’s been some buzz around Becerra, though that has really come from fellow Democratic legislators like Rep. Joe Crowley (D – N.Y) and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D – S.C.). Still, despite being a deep sleeper pick, having Becerra on the ticket might not be bad for Clinton. The Democratic nominee has repeatedly stated that she not only wants to win the White House, but also take back the House and Senate from Republicans. Picking someone like Elizabeth Warren makes that a harder task. With Becerra, however, there’s no danger of Warren’s seat going to a Republican.
But will we actually have a Latino VP?
It’s hard to say, really. Now’s a good time to remind you that Clinton made a promise to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda back April that Latinos would play a key role in her administration, and it would be shortsighted to not keep a commitment to the largest minority group in a country that’s becoming increasingly non-white. That said, recent reports suggest that the two top contenders for VP are white men. There’s also the fact that Clinton chose to skip the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, which is like the Latino national convention. Maybe she thinks having Trump as an opponent means that she can quietly start back-stepping on some of the promises made to Latinos. We’ll see.