Latinx activists want Joe Biden to pick a Latina as his VP

"Part of what the Biden campaign has been thinking, and thinking deeply about it and choking within, is how do we get more Latinos in the board?" said Mayra Macías, the executive director of Latino Victory, a progressive political action committee working to get Latinos into the political office.

Macías said she has talked to the Biden team about electing a vice president in Latina.

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"In addition to obviously helping us bring some people into the board, I think having a Latina on the ticket is a way, and a very visible way, to bring Latinos into the board."

At least two Latina candidates likely to be considered for Biden's vice presidential shortlist: Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and New Mexico State Attorney Michelle Lujan Grisham. Both have already made historical progress: Cortez Masto is the first Latina to serve in the Senate, and Lujan Grisham is the first Latina to serve as a Democratic governor in the United States.

Lujan Grisham has been particularly in the spotlight in recent weeks for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis in New Mexico. She was among the first governors to issue a home order and close schools state-wide as the coronavirus outbreak spread across the country.

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Latino voters could played a role in the election of the next president of the United States, accounting for 13.3% of all eligible voters, according to the Pew Research Center. In addition, 62% of Latino-registered voters identify or lean against the Democratic Party, while 34% say the same about the GOP.

"The Latino community is an important part of a winning coalition not only in states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas, but also in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Strong support from Latino voters is crucial to defeating Donald Trump in November," says Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told CNN in a statement. "Latina leaders deserve to be fully looked after and seriously considered – this process should not just be a check-the-box exercise or a substitute for significant community investment."

José Dante Parra, CEO of Prospero Latino, a strategic communications company, said that having a Vice President-elect for Latina "would mean we have come."

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"It's a feeling out there that it's just about lip service to the Latino community. When it comes to actually delivering for the Latino community, it's not that great." President ticket. And I think it can bring some reverberation through the community and really excited people, "Parra said.

Parra also said that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken over the news cycles, which has led to the 2020 election being out of the minds of many voters across the country. Parra said Biden, who chose a minority woman to be on the ticket, could provide more excitement ahead of November.

"I think nominating a member of a minority group would also help Biden break through the noise, break through the news cycle. And I think there would be more new cycles worth analyzing and earning media that they would get by nominating a member of a the minority community. "

Options for Latina VP come with support and ties to Biden

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Both Cortez Masto and Lujan Grisham have said they are honored to be considered for the position.

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Former Democratic leader of the Senate Harry Reid of Nevada, a close ally of Biden, previously had the seat now filled by Cortez Masto and told CNN in a statement that she would be an "excellent choice."

"Choosing a Latina running mate like Senator Cortez Masto would certainly help give Nevada voters," Reid said.

In a collection email to Biden from late last month, Cortez Masto mentioned her relationship with Beau Biden, the deceased son of the former vice president who passed away from brain cancer in 2015. Prior to winning her Senate seat in 2016, Cortez Masto served as a Nevada state attorney and worked with Beau Biden, who had been Delaware's attorney.

"I've known Joe Biden for almost 10 years, but he wasn't the first member of the Biden family I met. In fact, he was his late son, Beau, a state attorney, my partner in many important battles and a dear friend. Beau was a fearless public servant, a firm advocate for justice and a man who led with courage and compassion, "Cortez Masto wrote in the email." When I got to know Joe personally, it was clear that the apple had not fallen far from the tree. "

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Lujan Grisham, who has been governor of New Mexico since 2019, served as a congresswoman from New Mexico's 1st Congressional District from 2013 to 2018. She also previously served as health secretary in New Mexico from 2003 to 2007.

The governor also has a similar experience to the former vice president – her sister died of brain cancer, like Beau Biden. Lujan Grisham have previously said in interviews that the sister's illness and death motivate her work towards affordable health care.

Support for Biden within the Latinx community

Biden's run for the nomination depended heavily on African American voters, who strongly supported his candidacy and propelled him to the top after his overwhelming victory in the South Carolina primary.

But he has struggled to create and maintain the same enthusiasm with Latino voters, as in primary support widely, most recently Bernie Sanders for president.

It was made clear after the Nevada caucuses, which was the first state in the primary process to have a diverse Latinx voting block. There, Sanders won a staggering 53% of Latino voters, three times as much as the nearest competitor – Biden at 17%.
Biden has received endorsements from Latino organizations included Latino Victory Fund, but his campaign recognizes that there is work to be done to get more Latino support and points to the lack of personalized promotional events in recent weeks as to why he has failed to break through.
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A source within the Biden campaign told CNN that they attributed it to a total conversion to virtual events in the midst of the pandemic, claiming that it is difficult to break through coverage during a public health crisis when Biden's opponent, incumbent President Trump, is almost on TV daily keep briefings on coronavirus.

But despite the lack of enthusiasm from the Latinx community, a campaign assistant told CNN that a Latina running mate is not necessarily necessary to stimulate enthusiasm among Spanish communities.

"I don't think it will have that big impact. I think the community just wants someone who understands them," CNN's aide said.

Macias said she hopes that Biden's campaign seriously considers a Latina to be his running mate, rather than just having the women name on the checklist.

"I think bigger harm is if (the Latinx community) isn't even on the shortlist, right? Because I think it's still a long way to go, I think for us. The bigger damage is that we're not even considered or on the short list, "she said. "For once again, it confirms a message, or a false statement, that the Latino voice does not matter. As I think as a society and as an organization, working to mobilize and excite Latinos is something we are constantly hearing."

Covid-19 and 2020

While Covid-19 has halted the campaign, both Cortez Masto and Lujan Grisham have made appearances on cable news to support the former vice presidential candidacy.

In an interview with Telemundo Earlier this month, Cortez Masto was clear that she was "100%" with Biden.
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The Nevada senator also supported Biden last week, saying in a statement: "Joe Biden is the leader our country needs right now. His experience as a leader through moments of crisis and his trademark compassion and empathy are the leadership skills needed by the American people a unique public health and economic crisis. "

When asked off CNN's Jake Tapper about being on Biden's VP list, Lujan Grisham said she wants "to be the governor of New Mexico" and avoided answering the question directly.

"Well, I want to do this. I think you want a Vice President who was just like former Vice President Biden. He knew how to govern. He had done a ton of jobs as a senator and in local government as well, and I think it is incredible attributes, I want to be the governor of New Mexico, I will do whatever it takes to support a Biden administration, and I look forward to a federal administration that can make a national strategy in good times and in bad times. "

CNN's Sarah Mucha and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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