Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D) is deliberately courting Latino voters and donors in her bid for Congress in Maryland’s Fourth Congressional District. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

A national Latino political action committee hosted a fundraiser in Washington on Thursday night for Maryland congressional candidate Joseline Peña-Melnyk, a Democratic state lawmaker vying to succeed U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.).

The nonpartisan Latino Victory Fund — tied to a group founded by Democratic donors Henry Muñoz and actress Eva Longoria — is endorsing four Latino congressional candidates in California, Texas and Florida this cycle, but has not yet pledged support for Peña-Melnyk.

Earlier this week, Peña-Melnyk won the backing of the national abortion-rights organization, Emily’s List, known for raising lots of cash for candidates. She is running in a crowded primary that includes former state’s attorney Glenn F. Ivey, Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), former Maryland lieutenant governor Anthony G. Brown, former Prince George’s County lawmaker Ingrid Turner, education advocate Alvin Thornton, military veteran Warren Christopher and Terence Strait.

The fund is aiming to build a donor base that can boost the influence of the country’s largest minority group in local, state and federal elections.

It is the political arm of the Latino Victory Project, which wants to ensure that Hispanic voices are heard in elections. The group was responsible for attack ads against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for remarks he made about Mexican immigrants.

Peña-Melnyk has made Latinos, and registering Hispanic voters, a significant focus of her campaign. She has received contributions from two other Latino PACs, and won the endorsement of the region’s largest immigrant advocacy organization, CASA of Maryland.

The candidate appears regularly on Spanish-language television and radio urging people to vote. Last week, Peña-Melnyk underwent voter registration training with her campaign staff and began campaigning outside grocery stores Hispanics frequent in the region. Her campaign literature is printed in both Spanish and English.

Ivey, who has raised more money so far than Peña-Melnyk, has won the backing of a large group of Latino elected leaders in Prince George’s, many of whom have close ties to his friend Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s), the state’s first Hispanic state senator.

Peña-Melnyk’s labor-intensive effort to register voters mirrors in some ways the successful campaign last year of Prince George’s County Council member Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi), who focused on registering voters near polling stations with dense Latino populations and won by six votes.

The 4th Congressional District straddles both Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties, which are 17 and 7 percent Latino, respectively. Nationally, a little more than a third of eligible Hispanic voters turned out in 2014, according to the research and polling firm Latino Decisions.

Peña-Melnyk said she has a responsibility to help improve those numbers, which may in turn help her campaign: “I’m not the anointed one, but I’m here and we are surprising people,” she said. “I strongly believe you can win or lose a race on Election Day.”