Below you see an article on Trans Pacific Trade Pact written from Latino activists knowing how badly TPP hurts immigrants in the US and their own nations. So, organizations like CASA-----
Now, these Latino justice organizations orginally did advocate for justice for Latino/Hispanic immigrants just as NAACP did advocate for justice for black citizens. It is not a coincidence that both organizations were founded in Maryland----which we all know has the worst record for abuse and exploitation of Latino immigrants and black citizens. Since Clinton neo-liberals captured the Democratic Party CASA still comes out every election and for every policy pretending to be progressive but tied to Trans Pacific Trade Pact. All immigrants understood the Congressional neo-liberal Immigration Bill was bad for immigrants yet----Baltimore sent out people of color and immigrants all supporting Trans Pacific Trade Pact Immigration Bill---national labor union leaders sent labor union members as well KNOWING HOW BAD THIS FLOOD OF IMMIGRANTS TIED TO TPP WILL BE FOR US LABOR.
CASA today at the national level is controlled by an appointed NEW DEMOCRAT----the new name for Clinton neo-liberal----who works for global corporate profit and wealth and not for equality and equal rights for all. Again, people at the local levels working with these groups often don't know they work against the members they claim to support---but the leadership does. These non-profits are used just as NGOs use overseas organizations to move their interests forward---they provide the necessities of life but do not educate on public policy issues or allow dissent and protest. Baltimore is one big NGO organization that keeps people from being citizens----and keeps them so poor and desperate so as to control people and NONE OF THAT IS DEMOCRATIC. PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS DON'T DO THAT. I watched TV commercials with our Congressional Clinton neo-liberals shown to care about KIDS in Baltimore----Cummings and Sarbanes as they serve over a third world society for these KIDS.
IT IS A DISGRACE!!!!!!
CASA was originally known as the "Central American Solidarity Association of Maryland". It is also known as "CASA de Maryland", as well as "CASA Maryland".
CASA was founded in 1985 in the basement of the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church by US citizens and Central American immigrants. It has since expanded its scope. It is affiliate organization of the National Council of La Raza. They are a member of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. CASA is also a founding member of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, which promotes "comprehensive immigration reform".[not in citation given]
In June 2010, CASA opened a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) multicultural center in the heart of Langley Park and located in the former Langley Park mansion. The project was budgeted at $31 million in 2007. Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, said at the fundraising kickoff for the project, "In our Maryland, there's no such thing as a spare American".
It is not progressive to call immigrants to your state and then allow them to be fleeced of wages no matter how much clinic health care that mirrors that in Haiti is given. Hispanic/Latino children are being sent to the same underfunded and marginalized public schools as black underserved so where is that DREAM education? Only a few percent of immigrants are tracked into solid education and higher education and those who graduate adopt the NEW DEMOCRAT global market and wealth economic strategy of Clinton neo-liberals.
FOLKS-----REAL PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL LABOR AND JUSTICE POLS DO NOT ALLOW IMMIGRANTS TO BE FLEECED AND ABUSED IN THE WORKPLACE!
As low-wage black workers in Baltimore will tell you----if an employer does this to immigrant workers---they will do it to US workers made desperate for jobs.
Report: White-collar Wage Theft Examined in Maryland
Monday, June 18th, 2012 Posted in Uncategorized
BALTIMORE – Working overtime off the clock, answering employee questions during off-hours, and being classified as a lower-level employee even when acting as a manager: those are examples of “wage theft” in a new report that tracks state policies to prevent wage theft, and Maryland is like most states because it lacks protections for employees.
Dianne Enriquez, a coordinator with Interfaith Worker Justice, a group that watchdogs wage theft, says it’s an issue that’s long affected blue-collar and lower-paid employees, but has become more prevalent for white-collar workers, especially in light of the recession.
“People don’t think they deserve the rights that they have. People don’t understand that even though they’re white-collar workers, they’re actually still quite vulnerable.”
The report from Progressive States Network estimates workers lose up to 15 percent of their earnings each year, on average, and Enriquez says recognition of the problem is lacking in better-paying jobs….
Posted on May 8, 2015 by Gil C. Schmidt
TPP Puts Latino Immigrants at Even Greater Risk (Part 2)
Please click here for Part 1 of this article, where the background of these potential consequences is laid out.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement being negotiated in secret. And yet, of its 29 known provisions, only five deal with trade. Ostensibly, the TPP is a U.S. response to the potential of being “shut out” of the growing Asian markets, expected to compose over 45% of the world’s projected economy by 2025. In other words, the TPP will be the U.S. “meal ticket” to sit at the Asian buffet.
And yet, the Asian countries in the TPP bloc are Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, not anywhere near the list of “Asian Tigers” that power the Eastern Hemisphere’s economy. (Japan joined TPP discussions for the very same reason this article is written: immigration.)
How is the TPP going to “protect U.S. exports and jobs in the near and distant future” when it is a free trade agreement with Asian countries that barely register as a blip on the world economic radar, when compared to China, Japan, South Korea and even Singapore? That answer lies in the non-trade provisions of the TPP, as you would expect.
The combination of secretiveness and false labeling as a “trade agreement” does not and cannot add up to a general positive. So what are those other 24 known provisions about?
- Controlling the Internet: The Internet is at present an enormous, environment with few regulations. To many people, one of which is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this is the Internet’s greatest strength: it is a true bastion of freedom. But for governments and multinationals, what can’t be controlled is a threat. The U.S. tried to control the Internet with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), but the bill was soundly defeated. Under the TPP, SOPA is alive and well and targeting all of the Internet, not just the (very large) U.S. cybersystem. At stake: virtual elimination of free speech, criminalization of file sharing and permission-based Internet use for even personal use.
- Expanding copyrights and patents: Closely-related to Internet control, imposing more stringent limitations on copyrights and patents is seen as a blatant attempt to push higher protection for U.S. content producers and manufacturers. It’s no wonder that Hollywood is very much on board with the TPP. Using “piracy” as the smokescreen, the TPP is looking to reduce competition by strangling the potential of new works and products to reach global markets.
- Reducing food safety standards: The TPP is seen as such a threat to agriculture that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to that effect. Under the TPP’s provisions, environmental protection and farming regulations would be scrapped in favor of corporate-based options, such as genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and “designer pesticides and fertilizers.”
- Protecting medication prices: The cost of medicines in the U.S. is almost ridiculously high. Pharmaceuticals blame government regulations for the high costs, and are using the TPP to lock in greater profits at the expense of consumers and national health systems.
It seems bewildering that a treaty this ruinous (remember: this is only what we know it contains), one of two related “Trojan treaties” currently in the works, could receive support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Republicans and Democrats. Granted, not all Republicans and Democrats are on board, but enough are that unless the “fast-track” process is derailed, odds are that the TPP will scrape through to become a done deal by mid-2016.
And that begs the question: Why are these two parties, so diametrically opposed to each other’s policies so often, coming together enough to foist this monstrosity on the American people?
The answer requires an analysis that understands that “free trade” is not the issue. Never was. The quintessential maxim in political strategy (and the TPP is nothing more than an extension of political strategy) is “Follow the money.” The money trail in the TPP is evident if you think of Republicans as the party of “Big Business, little government” and Democrats as the party of “little business, Big Government.” Look at the commerce angle first:
- The agreement would open markets that U.S.-based and other multinationals can exploit.
- Multinationals, by definition, owe allegiance to no single country. Their North Star is profits, pure and simple.
- However, for multinationals to operate under the greatest profit possible, they need favorable government conditions, parameters and regulations. A trade agreement like NAFTA and the TPP move the dial away from legal structures that protect national interests and push it towards the multinational interests side.
- The TPP will “fix” what NAFTA wasn’t able to accomplish: establish a comprehensive, transnational free trade arrangement that benefits all parties almost equally.
- Rather than reducing government size, the TPP will actually create one or more “layers” of new government that Democrats can aim at environment, alternative energy and education issues.
- As the biggest economic player, the U.S. will receive, if not generate, the largest share of investment from multinationals looking to leverage our economic power (production and market), boosting global influence.
Look at each list again and you’ll see how “Follow the money” means that for the Republican and Democratic oarties, the TPP is a lobbying gold mine with no end in (over)sight. Point 3 in each list spells it out: for the multinationals to achieve their highest profit margins, they’ll need to lobby (pay legal bribes) to government officials. And that is a situation that even the orneriest opposition between Republicans and Democrats can wholeheartedly get behind.
And no, don’t take my word for it. Here’s a 2005 Working Paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research written by Giovanni Maggi and Andrés Rodríguez-Clare that spells out this scenario exactly. To quote from the study:
First, we show that the degree of capital mobility is a key determinant of the extent of trade liberalization. In particular, we find that trade liberalization is deeper when capital is more mobile across sector.
Second… we find that, if the domestic-commitment motive for the trade agreement is strong enough, trade liberalization is deeper when governments are more politically motivated (in the sense that they care more about political contributions).
In addition, in their 2007 paper, Maggi and Rodríguez-Clare expanded and refined their model to describe more closely how trade liberalization can not only increase lobbying, but also make it more consistent. That the model seems to accurately describes what happened around most major trade agreements and is a central component of the TPP talks (to the extent that lobbyists are even controlling information flow) cannot be considered “luck” or “coincidence.”
Now how does the TPP keep governments from overstepping their newly-assigned boundaries and keep the profiteering running as smoothly as possible? The TPP aims to do this with the “investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) court.” This would entail the creation of a “separate court” as the arbitration forum to handle disputes between the governments and the corporations that want to challenge them. These types of arbitration bodies are already part of some trade agreements, but the TPP aims to expand the scope and power of these “trade courts” to cover all or nearly all of a corporation’s so-called “rights.”
What that means is that if a foreign company (domestic companies are still subject to national law, but multinationals can legally claim foreign status) believes that a law or legislation will limit or somehow threaten their operations (including profits, of course), the company can sue the government in the ISDS, and thus is not subject to any country’s legal system. It effectively places corporate “rights” above national sovereignty.
And who will make up this “trade-centric court” that currently has no recourse for appeal? Representatives selected primarily by the multinationals themselves, affiliated with the United Nations and World Bank. The U.S. supports this clause, Australia opposes it to the point it passed legislation against approving or allowing such clauses in any treaty it signs.
But imagine: Exxon opens a fracking operation in Peru. The environmental damage is enormous and a lake once providing clean water to several communities is destroyed. The Peruvian government levies a fine against Exxon and orders it to curtail operations or cease if the safety and antipollution conditions are not met. Exxon sues the government of Peru, has the case tried in the ISDS and who do you think will win?
Phillip-Morris is suing Australia because that country forces its cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging, after losing their case in the Australian High Court. El Salvador is being sued by Australian mining company OceanaGold after refusing to grant that firm a mining license, based on its previous history of destroying a river with arsenic and other chemicals. Will these companies win their cases in ISDS settings? Maybe. But if they do, it sends a clear message: corporations rule governments.
And this is precisely why the TPP will be a severe blow to immigrants. If a multinational can sue a government and have the case tried in what can only be called a corporate kangaroo court, what’s to stop a multinational from doing what it wants?
In the U.S., roughly 78% of jobs are in services sectors. What is often the single largest expense in a service business?
Wages and benefits.
So if a multinational is looking to save money and rake in greater profits by cutting costs, what will they cut?
Wages and benefits.
And since many service companies can’t move away from the market like a manufacturer could, then how will they get workers to accept these lower-but-profiteering wages?
They’ll bring them in from another country.
The TPP expands the power of multinationals to “hire non-resident and foreign temporary workers” to virtually unlimited levels of numbers and time. The power they have under the agreement would allow companies to bring in as many workers as they see fit, without much regard to their qualifications (no high level of expertise would be required, as under most worker visas), and subject to no future limitations by legislation or executive order.
By law, temporary workers, even those who spend years working a country, are not regarded as citizens, and often, their time in that country does not count towards citizenship requirements, thus their tenure leaves them with no other option when the worker visa expires but to return to their native country.
You see where this is headed. Under the TPP, a company can bring immigrant workers to a country, subject to no other law but their own, keep them working for as long as the company chooses and then the workers will have no recourse but to return home or remain as undocumented immigrants when the company lets them go.
The TPP extends the “free trade” malaise that NAFTA and CAFTA and other “job creating, economy-enhancing” treaties promised to do. With Mexico as signatory, a country that went from 99% economic growth in 20 years to less than 1% a year after NAFTA, the prospect of another wave of immigrants displaced by a shattered economy is not probable: it is a certainty. The Mexican economy cannot retool its economy fast enough to absorb the thousands of workers who had previously been left untouched by NAFTA, but will now be subject to an even more poisonous treaty. Those workers, many of them in service industries, will have to choose to head north across the border and take their chances in the U.S. or…
Be hired by a TPP-protected multinational. To get paid whatever the company wants to pay, subject to whatever legal protections the company is willing to offer, under contract for as long as the company wishes and replaceable whenever the company chooses.
The options for Mexican immigrants thus become (a) cross the border illegally, (b) find any job and get a worker visa or (c) get hired as a corporate serf.
And is there reason to think that Mexicans will be the “low rung on the totem pole” in terms of being willing to work for low wages? The fact that many American jobs were deemed “stolen” by Mexicans after NAFTA, and that NAFTA created a huge wave of immigration is at the heart of the anti-immigration rhetoric that underlies much of the vitriolic policies seen in Arizona and Alabama, and much of the border militarization that has led to a sharp increase in immigrant deaths since 2002. The anger against undocumented immigrants has clearly spilled over to slosh upon the U.S. Latino community as whole, what with “Show me your papers” incidents becoming standard practice in the “Land of the Free.”
Via America’s Voice
No, the Mexican immigrant under TPP will not be “the lowest wage” possible, only the nearest. Check out Vietnam’s wage scale, which is lower on average than even China’s. So not only will Mexican and other Central American workers be displaced with no national economy to offer them decent jobs, their “northern solution” will be able to point to Vietnam’s average $140 a month wage and say: “They’ll work for much less, so take it or leave it.” Under the TPP, companies will do that: it’s what the treaty is for. It’s not “free trade.” It’s “corporate profiteering trade.”
Add to this the overwhelming statistics about the U.S. prison population, how U.S. Latinos are targeted by the justice system and how private prison management corporations (many with deep ties in the government) are constantly lobbying for harsher immigration controls, and you have the makings of a nightmare scenario for Latino immigrants in the U.S., ostensibly one with no end in sight.
There’s a word that describes a political system where corporations merge with government and take over. It describes a political and economic system of “corporate might makes right,” where individual rights belong to corporations (as people now, of all things) and not to individuals and where government strides in lock-step to ensure that profits are the goal because a good part of those profits come back to the government with pleasing consistency.
The following quote sums up the coming TPP scenario best:
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
Maybe Benito Mussolini said it, maybe he didn’t, but there’s no arguing the truth in those words, a truth the Trans-Pacific Partnership is only too happy to see become a reality. Again.
And under that political and economic system, history proves that immigrants will always fare badly, lacking rights and remedies, vulnerable in almost every way. The TPP is not inevitable: for the sake of present and future immigrants, true free trade and individual rights, the TPP must be stopped.
Again, Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons have never intended a pathway to citizenship for Latino/Hispanics and they are stringing them along each election making these citizens as frustrated as black citizens having the same thing done by Clinton neo-liberals. CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS EMBRACE THE FEDERALISM ACT WHICH STATES IT WILL IGNORE FEDERAL LAWS AND LEAVE IT TO STATES TO DECIDE SO THEY HAVE NEVER HAD ANY INTEREST IN EQUAL RIGHTS, LABOR RIGHTS, WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
When I watch groups like CASA backing O'Malley in Maryland and the most raging of neo-liberals in each election we see the disconnect of what voters understand in public policy goals and what these pols say. THESE ARE NOT DEMOCRATS---THEY ARE GLOBAL POLS POSING AS PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS. Immigrant and Latino/Hispanic citizens must start at the local level to run as REAL progressive candidates against NEW DEMOCRATS/Clinton neo-liberals so we can have national Democrats that are not Clinton neo-liberals like Obama. Neo-liberals are working hard to move all voters of color as far right Republican as they can.
Latino Democratic candidates are being run by Clinton neo-liberals as NEW DEMOCRATS just as black Democratic candidates are here in Maryland and it only continues the hold on all American politics of these global corporate pols. Those American candidates of color that do run as neo-liberals will be up against global pols of color if Trans Pacific Trade Pact is installed making that small percentage of people earning good money a billion in one long-shot and the families of today's winners will be with the impoverished. We need the good people to become engaged in politics----do not allow only those selected by incumbents be lifted!
Democrats losing favor with some Latinos
The victory of three Republican Latinos in last year's election is a warning sign for Democrats. Political activists and campaign strategists say Democrats need to do more to bolster their Latino candidates.
June 11, 2011|By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times
Early this year, Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez made history. He became Nevada's first Latino governor. In New Mexico, she became the country's first Latina governor.
Just as striking as their breakthrough is their party affiliation: Both are Republicans.
For many in the GOP, the twin victories last November, along with the election of Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, marked an important step in efforts to mend the party's frayed ties with Latino voters, which have suffered over the last several years of hard-line talk on immigration.
For Democrats, the election of the three was something else: a warning sign at a time when Latino support has grown increasingly vital to the party's success, especially in the battleground states of the Rocky Mountains and desert Southwest.
Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Michael Bennet of Colorado each withstood the 2010 Republican wave thanks in good part to Latino support. President Obama is counting on strong Latino turnout to hold on to Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico — states he won in the last White House race — and to expand the 2012 competition to Arizona and, maybe, Texas and Georgia.
"The Republicans, by electing three national Latino leaders, have really challenged the Democratic Party," said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, until recently one of the highest-ranking Latino Democrats in the country.
"Democrats have to recruit more Latino candidates and they have to start siding with Latinos on redistricting and other issues," Richardson said, "because many Latinos perceive that the party doesn't care enough about electing more Hispanic officials."
Richardson's concerns were echoed by Latino lawmakers, political activists and campaign strategists across the country. To them, the Democratic Party — while benefitting from a surge in Latino votes — has, in particular, not done enough to help Latino candidates move from city council, legislative and congressional seats to the party's highest elected offices.
Money is one reason. Many Latinos represent less affluent, more geographically concentrated areas that fail to provide the fundraising base that white politicians have. Boosting Latino candidates requires patience and a grooming process that Democrats have not often undertaken, critics say, pointing to Senate races next year in three key states as an example.
In Nevada and Arizona, they note, there is no credible Latino Democrat running. In New Mexico, state Auditor Hector Balderas is scrambling for traction in a primary against Rep. Martin Heinrich, who started the race as the perceived favorite of the party establishment.
"The Democrats really haven't shown a willingness or any creativity in identifying Latino talent and moving it forward," said Margaret Montoya, a University of New Mexico administrator and a Balderas supporter. "Martin Heinrich is a reliable progressive vote. Hector is a vote, a voice and a face of the future."
Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, said the party recognized the importance of recruiting and supporting Latino candidates and was staying neutral in New Mexico's primary after sending early signals in favor of Heinrich.
He pointed out that the party helped recruit Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, to run for Senate in Texas in 2012, though he is very much an underdog, given the state's Republican leanings.
The discontent among Latinos is a matter of degree.
The overwhelming majority of elected Latinos belong to the Democratic Party, and most Latino voters tend to favor Democrats over Republicans up and down the ballot. Even as they won their governor races, Sandoval and Martinez failed to capture a majority of the Latino vote in their states. Any GOP gains among Latinos are likely to narrow the gap, not reverse it.
And even as the recent election results buoy Republicans, factions within the party continue to fight over immigration, pitting supporters of an enforcement-only approach against those who want to combine strict laws with a pathway to citizenship — as President George W. Bush favored — for millions who are living illegally in the country but paying taxes and keeping out of trouble.
Florida's Rubio, one of the Republican's brightest prospects, has felt the tensions. Critics say he talked tough on immigration while running for Senate last year, but has yet to follow through after being elected. "He wants to have it both ways," George Fuller, a "tea party" activist in Sarasota, Fla., told the Miami Herald. "We're going to be zeroing in on him like a laser."
Still, at the very least, the election of high-profile Latino Republicans in three key states gives the GOP an opportunity to move away from the more heated rhetoric of the national party, a first step toward boosting support among Latinos and possibly tipping those states in 2012. Martinez will be the featured speaker Monday night at an Orange County Republican Party dinner in Irvine.
This article shows who the raging Clinton neo-liberals really are-----and look who comes out for California's Attorney General ------land of massive corporate frauds from last decade with NO JUSTICE----Harris is a carbon copy of Maryland's Doug Gansler for goodness sake. NO REAL DEMOCRAT WOULD WANT KAMILA HARRIS JUST AS GANSLER RECEIVED 5% OF MARYLAND'S REGISTERED DEMOCRATIC VOTERS. Yet, there are raging Clinton neo-liberals like Corey Booker----Martin O'Malley's brother by another mother-----and there is progressive poser Elizabeth Warren-----Warren supported every Clinton neo-liberal in these last elections BECAUSE SHE IS A CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL AND NOT A PROGRESSIVE POPULIST!
Just as black Americans are getting sick and tired of the Clinton neo-liberal lies so too are Latino/Hispanic voters and each time they are frustrated by candidates running as Democrats and serving as Republicans -----they lose respect for the Democratic Party which is the goal of the Clintons. Remember, Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons are a tag team for global corporate tribunal and are busy creating a far-right platform for after the coming economic crash from this bond market fraud.
Villaraigosa AND CISNEROS MENTIONED AS CANDIDATES FOR LATINOS ARE ALSO CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS SO THERE IS NO TALK OF GETTING RID OF NEO-LIBERALS ----
Latinos angry at D.C. Democrats The rush by Democrats in Washington to back California's Kamala Harris for Senate raises hackles.
By Alex Isenstadt
1/21/15 8:03 PM EDT
The procession of prominent Washington Democrats who lined up last week to sing the praises of California Attorney General Kamala Harris for Senate had the feel of an anointment. Sen. Cory Booker said he was “so excited” about her candidacy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Harris, a favorite of the Obama White House, “smart” and “tough.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told supporters she needed Harris “by my side.”
But back in California, a backlash is brewing among Latinos, who say the Democratic establishment’s quick embrace of Harris threatens to deny a Hispanic candidate a fair shot at the state’s first open Senate seat in more than two decades. Latinos are an outsize force in California politics: With nearly 40 percent of the population, they have moved ahead of whites to become the state’s largest demographic group. Since 1990, Latino representation in the Legislature has more than tripled, and Hispanics have been chosen in recent years to lead both chambers of the state Capitol.
Nothing against Harris, Latino officials say, but there needs to be a level competition for the seat that Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is vacating in 2016.
“National figures should slow their roll a bit and allow this process to evolve naturally so we can all rally around one strong Democratic candidate,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat.
“I think Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign,” added Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “There are certainly talented Latinos who could run for that seat.”
A number of possible Latino candidates have been floated as possible candidates since Boxer announced her retirement earlier this month, from Rep. Xavier Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, to Alex Padilla, the just-elected California secretary of state. But most of the speculation has centered on Antonio Villaraigosa, the colorful and ambitious 61-year-old former Los Angeles mayor. In recent days, prominent Hispanics across the country have urged Villaraigosa to jump in, frustrated by the clamor for Harris before the race has really begun.
Among the Villaraigosa suitors has been Henry Cisneros, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary. The two spoke by phone over the weekend, and in an email, Cisneros said he expected Villaraigosa — whom he hailed as a “trailblazer in a California Latino tradition that is proud and rich in history” — to enter the race.
During a recent meeting on Capitol Hill, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus voiced concern about the developments in the California race. “It’s a little premature to assume there’s only going to be one Democratic candidate,” one of the group’s leaders, California Rep. Tony Cardenas, said in an interview. He has also urged Villaraigosa to run.
Cardenas, who represents a Los Angeles-area district, argued that any Hispanic Democrat from Southern California would have a larger base of support than Harris, who is from the Bay Area, a less population-rich part of the state.
The flare-up is a rare recent instance of tension inside the Democratic tent. Most of the intraparty battles in congressional elections lately have been on the Republican side — tea party activists accusing national Republicans of playing favorites in primaries and supporting candidates deemed more moderate. Democratic leaders have, by and large, avoided taking sides in primaries.
But Democratic officials say they have good reason to back Harris, the contest’s only announced candidate, early on. In California, the top two finishers in the June primary advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, so a large group of Democratic candidates could, in theory, splinter the vote and allow a Republican to make the runoff. In lining up behind Harris, Democrats say they are discouraging a crowded field from developing.
Immediately after Harris launched her campaign last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a statement that stopped short of an outright endorsement but that praised her as a “strong” candidate.
A DSCC spokesman, Justin Barasky, declined to comment other than to say that “Democrats are confident that in 2016 we will elect a Democratic senator who will carry on Barbara Boxer’s strong tradition of fighting for California.”
A Harris spokesman, Brian Brokaw, said the state attorney general “has never taken any campaign for granted.”
“As the daughter of immigrants and a champion on so many of the issues facing California’s Latino population,” he added, “she looks forward to once again earning the support of the state’s Latino population and representing all Californians in the Senate.”
Democrats have other reasons for standing behind Harris. Many view the 50-year-old as a national leader-in-waiting. She has cultivated close ties with President Barack Obama, co-chairing his 2012 campaign. That Harris would add diversity to the Democratic ranks in the Senate — she is half-black and half-Indian — is an added plus.
But a number of Latinos are unswayed.
“California is a different state than it used to be,” said Fabian Nuñez, a former state Assembly speaker. “Before people make a decision as to who they want to be supporting, I think it would be wise for them to take a step back and take a deep breath.”
It’s possible that a number of Hispanic candidates will ultimately enter the race, even as Harris locks down early support.
Villaraigosa, who spent eight years as mayor and served in the state Legislature before that, appears increasingly serious about running. He has spent the past week talking with political players in the state, including Boxer and longtime supporters including film producer Steve Bing, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. Villaraigosa could also opt to run for governor in 2018, when Democrat Jerry Brown will be termed out of office.
Becerra, who has spent much of his 12 terms in the House climbing his party’s leadership ranks, has also told colleagues he is thinking about getting in the contest. Another Southern California lawmaker, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, has also said she is considering a bid.
“The era is over in California where major statewide races are decided behind closed doors,” said Antonio Gonzalez, a Hispanic political organizer in the state, “as is the era where major statewide races have no Latino candidate.”