Represent!

Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Latino politicians get the spotlight at DNC Convention

California State Senator Alex Padilla is also president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
California State Senator Alex Padilla is also president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Kitty Felde/KPCC

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was Tuesday night’s keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gets a speaking spot right before Bill Clinton Wednesday night. And L.A. Congressman Xavier Becerra will address the crowd Thursday night. Democrats are bragging about a strong farm team of Latino candidates waiting in the wings.

State Senator Alex Padilla says the nation’s growing Latino population is changing voter demographics in both local and congressional races. And not just in the historically Latino-centric states of California, New York, Texas, and Illinois.

"Now the Latino vote is critical in New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia of all places, even here in North Carolina," says Padilla, noting that the Tar Heel state now has a Latino population of 13 percent.

Currently, there are two dozen Latino House members from around the country, and about one-in-four California lawmakers are Latino. As president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Padilla says those numbers will grow – with a lot of local talent. California has the deepest bench—"and the deepest potential," he says.

Padilla adds they’re not all Democrats either. A growing number of Latino politicos put an “R” next to their name.  

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