Eva Longoria speaks to reporters before the YWCA USA Women of Distinction Awards Gala Friday. (Kris Connor / Getty Images) Eva Longoria speaks to reporters before the YWCA USA Women of Distinction Awards Gala Friday. (Kris Connor / Getty Images)

No, Eva Longoria has no plans to run for Congress, she says, much as she’d like to help turn her native Texas blue.

“No, no,” she told us at the YWCA’s Annual Conference and Gala Awards in Washington, where she was honored for her philanthropic efforts boosting Latina education and entrepreneurship. “I like to participate the way I have been.”

But as the Desperate Housewife-turned-top Obama fundraiser fielded questions about policy — confident, diplomatic, smoothly deflecting — you couldn’t help but think: She would fit in on a campaign trail just fine.

The list of stars who’ve led sensational US Weekly-cover lifestyles while also attaining a genuine political gravitas is a very short one — George and Angelina and . . .? — but Longoria is suddenly on it, after raising millions as an Obama reelection co-chair, delivering a prime-time convention speech and now plotting the formation of a Latino political organization with some fellow campaign heavyweights. Their focus at the moment is immigration reform, she said.

Thoughts on the Obama administration’s high rate of deportations, a problem for some immigration advocates? Gentle sidestep: “I was very happy when the president and the administration openly supported the Dream Act,” she said. “That’s the area that’s most significant to me. . . We have to capitalize on this emerging market within our own borders.” She added that she’s hopeful about immigration reform and that “the Gang of Eight is doing a great job.”

Longoria arrives before the gala. (Kris Connor) Longoria arrives before the gala. (Kris Connor)

Concerned about the Republicans homing in on this issue in search of Hispanic votes? “I think it’s a bipartisan issue,” she said.

We really wanted to ask her about the recent NSA surveillance revelations — who’s more privacy-sensitive than celebrities? — but she had been whisked off to the next reporter. (“Eva, who are you wearing?” someone asked of her close-fitting black lace frock. “I have no idea,” she said wryly.)

The YWCA USA held its second annual gala Friday night as part of an effort to rebrand the focus of the national organization from girls’ recreation centers to a larger women’s support network. The other formidable honorees included “don’t ask don’t tell” challenger Zoe Dunning, Martha’s Table CEO Patty Stonesifer, and Sharon Love, a domestic violence activist since her daughter Yeardley was killed by an ex-boyfriend. Allstate was also recognized for its domestic violence awareness programs.

Longoria had no prior connection with the YWCA, but “we reached out,” said president Dara Richardson-Heron, “and she was able to come.”

Longoria speaking at the gala. (Kris Connor)
Longoria speaking at the gala. (Kris Connor)

The star did not mingle during the pre-dinner reception and left immediately after the meal ended. But she was gracious in her 10-minute remarks, making a point to commend the hotel staff: “I always do this when I’m at some sort of fancy gala that is trying to change the world: to thank our servers and the people who prepared our food.”

She warmly teased the host organization about its ambitions. “The mission of the YWCA to empower women and eliminate racism is a big one. I was like, ‘That’s your mission?'” On the charities she supports: “I can never choose which one to do, so I just do them all.”


Ingrid Saunders Jones and Dara Richardson-Heron present Longoria with her prize. (Kris Connor)

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