In 2018, Latino Victory Fund launched the Year of the Latina initiative to increase Latina representation across government. Now, it’s bolstering its efforts with First Latinas—a program announced on Wednesday.
The joint partnership with actress Eva Longoria and women’s rights activist Cecile Richards is designed to endorse and raise awareness of Latina candidates running for offices that have never had a Latina representative before.
The idea is to achieve milestones across the country and already, the Latino Victory Fund has thrown its support behind women set to make history in the 2020 election cycle. Candace Valenzuela, who won her Democratic primary runoff in Texas earlier this month, is on her way to potentially becoming the first Afro-Latina elected to Congress. Meanwhile, Georgette Gomez broke barriers as the first LGBTQ Latina elected as San Diego City Council President and is positioned to become the first openly LGBTQ Latinx member of Congress, representing California’s 53rd Congressional District.
Other candidates who reflect the goals of First Latinas include Christina Hale, a candidate for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District and Michelle De La Isla, a candidate for Kansas 2nd Congressional District.
“Latinas are transforming the political landscape in races across the country and they’re winning. First Latinas aims to increase Latina representation and break barriers for future generations of Latinas who will see themselves in these key decision-making positions,” Nathalie Rayes, president and CEO of the Latino Victory Fund, said in a statement to Remezcla.
These candidates also capture the diverse experiences and intersectional identities of the Latino community, which speaks to the power of representation and having Latinas run in higher numbers.
“We know Latinos are not a monolith and neither is the Latinx experience. We want to see more elected officials who can advocate for the intersectional identities of Latinos and talk about Afro-Latinx issues and Latinx LGBTQ issues from a first-hand vantage point,” Rayes explains. “Electing candidates like Candace Valenzuela and Georgette Gomez to office will move the needle towards Latino representation that is truly inclusive of our community.”
In 2018, as women and people of color ran for office in record numbers, five Latinas were eventually elected to Congress, among them Reps. Sylvia García and Verónica Escobar of Texas, Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Power of Florida’s 26th congressional district, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district and AOC. First Latinas is designed to seize on the momentum that’s been building over the last couple of years and ensure Latinas continue to gain seats in our country’s government.
“We cannot have a fully representative democracy if we do not have more Latinas at the table advocating for their communities,” Richards asserts in a statement. “I know that because of Latino Victory’s First Latinas program not only will we have more Latinas elected to office this year, but a new generation of Latinas will know that they can be next.”