At a private meeting for about 30 donors, fundraisers and union leaders Friday, leaders of the group laid out a strategy to make the issue central in next year’s midterm elections if Congress does not pass a bill, identifying 10 House Republicans who would be vulnerable to pressure from Latino constituents.
Members of the group agreed to spend $1 million to $2 million in each of the targeted districts. The effort will begin in coming weeks with a campaign aimed at persuading the lawmakers to back an immigration measure this year. If that fails, the group plans to run a barrage of radio and TV ads against them next year.
“We’re all very united,” said Amalia Perea Mahoney, an art gallery owner in Chicago, who joined donors from Washington, Florida, Texas, California, New York and Massachusetts at Friday’s gathering at a hotel in the District. “I think it’s a pivotal moment.”
Tom Snyder, the AFL-CIO’s immigration campaign manager, said, “There was agreement in the room that if we don’t see action in the House, we know who we’re going after.”
But Rob Stutzman, a GOP campaign consultant in Sacramento, said an intensive media campaign has to be buttressed with a major voter-turnout operation to be effective.
He also said some of the House members on the group’s list may have inoculated themselves by already modifying their stances.
One of them, Rep. Jeff Denham (Calif.), announced this weekend that he is backing a Democratic bill that pairs a pathway to citizenship with more stringent border security. “If something doesn’t pass the House, it’s not going to be because of four congressmen from California,” Stutzman said.
The Latino Victory Project grew out of a fundraising committee called the Futuro Fund, which brought in more than $30 million for Obama’s reelection and minted a new cadre of national political donors. Led by actress Eva Longoria, Puerto Rico lawyer Andres Lopez and San Antonio businessman Henry R. Muñoz III, the fund represented the most robust demonstration yet of the Latino community’s ability to amass cash for U.S. political campaigns.
After the election, those involved worked quietly to transform the loose network of donors into a permanent fundraising organization aimed at promoting policy issues and Latino candidates.
“What we want to do with the Latino Victory Project is build political power in the Latino community, so that the faces of Latinos are reflected not just in every level of government but in the policies that drive the country forward,” said Cristobal Alex, a former program officer for the Ford Foundation who left his post to serve as president of the new group.