The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is ostensibly a bi-partisan body that in the past has had Republican members. But it has none at the moment, so it's no surprise that the caucus’ political action committee is spending money on two races where Democratic Latino challengers are facing off against vulnerable Republicans.
The Committee for Hispanic Causes/Building our Leadership Diversity PAC, or CHC BOLD PAC, sent $10,000 apiece to emergency room doctor Raul Ruiz, who is running against Palm Springs Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, and former astronaut Jose Hernandez, who is challenging Fresno Republican Jeff Denham.
In a race for an open seat, L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas got $6,000. He's running against David Hernandez, who heads the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce and is running as an independent. In the June primary, Cardenas finished well ahead of Hernandez, 64% to 22%.
But the CHC BOLD PAC is also putting money into the campaigns of four California Democratic incumbents: $10,000 each to Joe Baca of Ontario and Grace Napolitano of Norwalk; $5,000 each to Lucille Roybal-Allard of Los Angeles and Jim Costa of Fresno.
Napolitano finished less than 2,000 votes ahead of her GOP challenger, real estate developer David Miller, in the June primary. She admits she was “complacent” and did little campaigning due to a family illness.
Because of California's new rules that allow candidates from the same party to advance to the general election, Baca is facing off against another longtime Democratic Latino lawmaker, State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. Baca beat McLeod by fewer than 3,000 votes in the primary. He’s outraised her in campaign donations by about three-to-one. One reason the CHC BOLD PAC picked one Democrat over another: Baca is a former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Roybal-Allard is also facing off against a Democrat in the November general election. She beat David Sanchez by more than two-to-one in the primary, so it may seem she doesn’t really need the cash infusion. But her roots with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus go back to the beginning of the group. She’s a former director of the CHC Institute, the youth and education wing of the organization. Her father, the late Congressman Ed Roybal, was one of the founders of the CHC and served as its first chairman.
Jim Costa is the only non-Latino who got CHC BOLD PAC money. His district, however, is 58 percent Latino.
(UPDATE: Rep. Costa is Portuguese-American. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus responded to say he is Hispanic and an active member of the caucus. Note that the U.S. Census Bureau defines Hispanics/Latinos as people of "Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or some other Hispanic origin.")