“The biggest base of the Democratic Party is the Hispanic vote, and they’re not voting,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, a former Cameron County judge, at a Young Democrat meeting July 19 in Fort Worth. ”So what does that tell you? That we’re not doing enough to get the Hispanic vote.”
The group invited Hinojosa, who hopes to become the Texas Democratic Party Chair next year, as a special guest. This is just one of the few times Texas Democrats have brought this up as a concern. Last year, Tarrant County Democrats used canvassing as a way to reach Hispanics. This year, the concern is the same, but it seems to be overshadowed by concerns of methods to get people to vote Democrat, period.
“Why are people so adverse to doing anything different?” Hinojosa asked the group of less than 10 members, one of which was Rep. Lon Burnam (of Fort Worth). The former judge said there are good examples of Democrats being able to reach Hispanic voters, like in Nevada (by Senator Harry Reid) and Colorado (by Senator Michael Bennett). “It can be done.”
If he elected state party chair, Hinojosa currently the party chair for Cameron County, said he will spent time partnering up with non-profit organizations like Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents more immigrants than any other union in the U.S. (approximately one-fourth of its members are Hispanic immigrants).
In another meeting earlier last month, where a group of older (mostly women) Democrats met at a house in the Fairmount District to discuss upcoming voter registration efforts, the strategy concern (how to reach voters) seemed to create a divide for members.
Members discussed previous occasions where event organizers had turned them away, and others debated whether they should participate in the Aug. 10 Back to School event at Will Rogers Memorial Center, where attendees’ household income must fall below the 2011 federal poverty line.
One member said: “I think it’s a mistake [to participate.] We’re going to be picking up the papers in the parking lot after the event…These people aren’t worried about voting, they don’t even know where they’re going to be living next month.”
Voter activist Aracely Chavez, who was at that meeting, disagreed (Full disclosure: Chavez is a close friend’s mother who invited me to the meeting.). She said she didn’t understand why they would turn down any opportunity to inform potential voters of the elections and new voter registration law.