Political strategists sometimes write off California as a reliably blue state that doesn't merit much attention in Congressional races.
But that's not the view of the Latino Victory Project launched Monday by actress Eva Longoria and Democratic fundraiser Henry Muñoz. The new non-partisan political action committee says it’s critical to get more Latinos elected to office in the state.
"California is the future of the country," the group's president Cristóbal Alex told KPCC. "The rest of the country is eventually going to look like California, and leadership is coming from California."
That's why two of several candidates it is introducing to political donors are from California, Alex said. One is U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz of the 36th Congressional District, encompassing desert cities in Riverside County. The first-term Democratic lawmaker is facing a challenge from Republican Assemblymember Brian Nestande.
Ruiz is "a doctor who’s always given back to his community," Alex said. "And an incumbent in a very competitive district."
The other candidate getting support is Democrat Amanda Renteria, the buzz-worthy, Harvard-educated daughter of farmworkers trying to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. David Valadao in the Central Valley's 21st Congressional District.
"Amanda was the very first Latina to serve in the U.S. Senate as a chief of staff," Alex said.
The thinking is that top-caliber candidates whose stories resonate with Latinos will boost participation at the polls. During the last presidential election, Latino turnout lagged behind that of black and white voters.
Other candidates backed by the Latino Victory Project include Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores and Texas state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, both of whom are seeking lieutenant governorships in their respective states.
Alex said the group has raised nearly $5 million so far for its candidates, and plans to further cultivate a "pipeline of donors."