Texas and Nevada: A test of the rising Latino electorate



Texas House races: A test of the rising Latino electorate

RED BLUETwo Texas races in particular will challenge the power of the rising Latino population. In both places, a Latino candidate is challenging a non-Latino incumbent (one in a Democratic primary, the other in a general election) in a Latino-majority district where voter turnout is often poor. In the 23rd District, former Rep. Pete Gallego will try to take advantage of presidential election-level turnout to win back his old seat from GOP Rep. Will Hurd, who flipped it in 2014.

In the 29th District, former sheriff Adrian Garcia may have an even tougher task: He is challenging Rep. Gene Green, a fellow Democrat, in a primary based on the premise that a majority-Latino district should have a Latino representative. (Green, a two-decade incumbent, is white.) Both Garcia and Gallego will have to activate voters who are inconsistent (at best) to win, and their efforts will speak to how quickly the Latino community is turning its population growth into political clout.

Nevada Senate: Can Republicans win Hispanic voters?

On the GOP side, this race tests Republicans’ own ability to appeal to Latinos after their 2012 election debacle. Matched up against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who would be the first Latina to serve in the Senate, GOP Rep. Joe Heck will need every bit of the Hispanic outreach he conducted in the House to pay off in order to win. Heck has long been an evangelist for greater Republican outreach to minority communities, especially in non-election years, and he’s credited that with helping him hold down a swing seat in suburban Las Vegas for three terms.

Now, under a bigger spotlight, many Republicans are looking to Heck to set an example for the party on how to communicate with a key voting bloc, one that forms nearly 30 percent of Nevada’s population. But he will be battling history, as well as some key votes and statements on immigration and birthright citizenship, against Cortez Masto.

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