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Latino advice for gubernatorial candidates

Wednesday, Jul 17, 2013

* Martin Torres with the Latino Policy Forum has some advice for Illinois gubernatorial candidates

1) Diversify your campaign’s brain trust

You can’t build bridges without any infrastructure. Hiring part-time consultants and recruiting well-known campaign surrogates can be an effective strategy, but don’t stop there. Hire Latino campaign staff to fill visible, prominent positions within your campaign and establish a Latino advisory committee. Incorporating diverse talent within your campaign’s brain trust will send a signal to everyone that your campaign takes this segment of the electorate seriously.

More importantly, Latino staff and advisors can provide valuable perspectives on how to address specific Latino audiences, offer feedback on how policy statements will be received by the Latino community, and connect you with people you will go on to forge relationships with throughout the election. They can also be used to make sure that your web content, print materials, and Spanish-language radio and TV ads strike the right chord with Latino voters. At the very least, diversifying your campaign’s inner circle will indicate to voters and civic leaders that your administration will be inclusive if your candidate prevails in 2014.

2) Be specific as to how your administration will address issues of concern to Latino residents

Latino voters want to know how they fit into your vision of a better, stronger, more prosperous Illinois. Successful candidates will apply a Latino perspective to the overarching issues all voters care about. So when your campaign is talking about economic development, please explain how Latino business owners will benefit from your proposals. When your campaign talks education, please discuss how your reform agenda will help meet the needs of Illinois’ largest growing student population. And when it articulates how to get Illinois out of debt, please outline how your package of tax changes, spending choices, and government reforms are going to affect Latino children, families, and workers. Your campaign doesn’t have to carve out a Latino-centric explanation for everything, but it’s reasonable to expect some specific, data-driven responses from candidates who want to earn the trust of Latino voters.

3) Make plans to visit Latino voters outside of Cook County

This sounds obvious, but your campaign might feel pretty good about its standing with the Latino electorate after successful pit stops in Little Village, Humboldt Park, and Cicero. Don’t be fooled: Roughly 40 percent of Latino residents live outside of Cook County. In fact, during the last decade, the Latino population grew by more than 60,000 in both Kane and Will Counties and by nearly 50,000 in Lake County. Before your campaign stops in these areas, do your homework. Find out when Latino residents started settling in large cities like Elgin and smaller villages like Carpentersville. That will help your campaign better understand the historic dynamics of the population, shed light on what’s fueled population growth over time, and give you some insight into what’s needed from a public policy perspective to contribute to the well-being of Latino families as you move forward.

Your thoughts on this list? Also, do you have any other advice?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robert the Bruce - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:46 am:

    #3 is particularly wise. I’d combine that with

    4) Become friends with Juan Rangel.

  2. - Steve - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    Don’t refer to George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic”.

  3. - siriusly - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 10:59 am:

    That’s a great list. Don’t often see that quality of advice given away for free. We don’t often enough see campaigns following it either.

  4. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    Maybe even visit some Latino voters south of I-80 too.

  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    Dobra rada

    oops, i mean

    buenos consejos

  6. - zatoichi - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    They plan on getting to Beardstown soon? Rapidly growing Latino location all because of Cargill jobs.

    Take the same basic 3 items, swap ‘Latino’ for ‘gay’, ‘farmer’, ‘university’, ‘Black’,'rural’, or any other broad group category and then adjust the text slightly. Good generic advice to avoid the stereotype assumptions of 20 yers ago. Populations shift in density, locations, and impact. A basic precept of a successful business is know your customer. Politics is no different.

  7. - Downstater - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:25 am:

    =Don’t refer to George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic”.=
    Maybe someone should mention that to the Democratic candidates, since their party seems to be the ones calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic”

  8. - Loop Lady - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Divorce yourselves from UNO pronto…

  9. - walkinfool - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    UNO No!

    List is good for any statewide candidate, especially #3, given their respective power bases.

  10. - bored now - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    hmmm, downstater, hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. i’m not sure why people are confused by that (and even more perplexed by the assertion that one (ethnicity) negates the other (racism)). HOWEVER, i’d add a couple of things to the exceptional advice above.

    there are 433,000 latino voters in illinois, 7.6% of the turnout in 2012. the latino vote has been consistently increasing since 2006, despite the belief among republican presidential candidates and pollsters that it would decrease last year. latino voters do vote in lower percentages than white and black voters, which is why they are increasing at impressive numbers. no one can predict what latino turnout will look like next year, and the biggest driver of latino turnout may not be in the hands of pols in illinois (hispanic voters across the board seem to be very sensitive to immigration reform). i’d add:

    4. consider the work product of some key latino organizations (like latino decisions, naleo, etc). no reason to duplicate the work already out there in the public realm.

    5. advertise on the spanish media. it’s a good investment.

    6. do hispanic-attractive fund-raising events. if you want to learn what is driving this community, spending a couple of hours with latino contributors is the best focus group you can find…

  11. - David Ormsby - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    Follow the path of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Rep. Dan Burke, et al and learn to speak, read Spanish.

  12. - Lost in Chicago - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:17 pm:

    “Hire Latino campaign staff…”

    Isn’t that kind of broad? I thought a Mexican wasn’t a Puerto Rican wasn’t a Guatamalan wasn’t a Cuban, etc.

    Also, how do you negate the “he/she is just pandering to the segment” by hiring a Latino to the campaign staff.

  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    ===Also, how do you negate the “he/she is just pandering to the segment” by hiring a Latino===

    Make the hiring legit and give that person real input. Simple.

  14. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    Respectdully, in regards to #2:

    Develop sound economic, education, safety, etc. policies and the benefits will be apparent to individuals of all races and ethnicities.

    Then you won’t have to “explain” - “sell” - “convince” specific populations of the merits of your proposal, such as the Latino community, Asian community, African American community, etc.

    Develop tangible solutions to the problems before us - or at least a better “plan” than your opponents - and the advantages should be evident to most voters regardless of their skin color or ethnicity.

    Otherwise, a sound list to serve as a starting point.

  15. - Martin Torres - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 2:36 pm:

    Bored Now,

    Thanks for your comment regarding the post. I’d like to push back though on a few figures you included in your post.

    According to CNN’s exit polls,, Latinos accounted for 12% of voters in Illinois in the last general election - not 7%.

    Data shows that just over 5 million voters cast a ballot in Illinois that year. If the exit polls are accurate, then just over 600,000 Latinos voted that year, which is far greater than the 433,000 figure that you referenced.

  16. - shore - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 2:57 pm:

    #1 came up in the metra hearing today. There aren’t a lot of latino leaders around.

  17. - bored now - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    martin, my apologies. i wasn’t using exit polls but data provided by naleo…

  18. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jul 17, 13 @ 3:58 pm:

    @Martin Torres, @bored now, @Rich Miller

    === If the exit polls are accurate, then just over 600,000 Latinos voted that year ===

    The number would be 633,570 votes, to be exact.

    That seems HIGHLY implausible, given that there are only “773,000 Hispanic eligible votes in Illinois.” -

    “Eligible voters are defined as U.S. citizens ages 18 and older. Eligible voters are not the same as registered voters.”

    This leads to 4 possible conclusions:

    1.) 82% of Hispanic citizens over the age of 18 in Illinois registered to vote. 100% of those who registered then voted during the 2012 election. Those are INCREDIBLY high %’s.

    2.) The exit poll #’s are incorrect.

    3.) The interchangeable use of “Latino” and “Hispanic” by some organizations has somehow created a miscommunication in tracking the data.

    4.) The implausibly high % of registered voters and votes cast indicates some sort fraud.

    #2 and #3 seem much more likely than #1 or #4.

    I’m going to run this by a few academics I know to get their take on it, as well as a few politicos.

    The 633,570 number appears far too high to be accurate. The NALEO numbers seem much more likely to be correct.

  19. - Top Dog - Thursday, Jul 18, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    Perhaps look for a Latino running mate outside of Chicago like Linda Chapa LaVia. She has a strong record and is a vet, mother, and small business owner. Linda has been in the State legislature for 10 plus years and now chairs the Education Committee in the House.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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