Hey guys, we’ve got some 2020 and midterm news today, including an interview with the type of 2018 candidate driving the conversation on the Democratic side. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Latino Briefing if you got it from a pal and let’s get to it.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he’s busy enough doing his day job but he has still found enough time to do do what prospective presidential candidates do: He was there in a Waffle House in South Carolina in February and in Iowa chatting with firefighters and union members just last week, but he has also been quietly charting a different path for himself.
He has staked out a position on sanctuary cities that is in direct opposition to the Trump administration, and taken the chance to speak to Latino groups and others about the issue, since early in Trump’s presidency. He sounded a tone of inclusion on immigration and called his Mexican grandfather an original Dreamer after being awarded by the National Council of La Raza for his stance on sanctuary cities in March 2017, and also invoked his grandfather in a December CNN op-ed calling for Dreamers to be protected from deportation. And last week in Iowa he also addressed the Asian and Latino Coalition in Des Moines, speaking some Spanish and again defending sanctuary cities.
If it looks like Garcetti is gearing up for a presidential run, it’s because he is, with two sources telling The Latino Briefing that he plays up his Latino heritage in conversations with donors, and is expected to run.
“My mom always told me I check all the boxes,” Garcetti tells donors, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations. “He says he checks all the boxes, including Mexican,” the source said.
Two sources close to Garcetti declined to discuss his presidential ambitions or private conversations.
Those in the camps of other prospective candidates appreciate the way Garcetti frames immigration and loud opposition to Trump, but roll their eyes at the idea that he will easily resonate with Hispanics because they say he just hasn’t been as visible as others nationally, like Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, and in the communities, like prospective Latino candidates Julian Castro and Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
One operative who supports a different prospective 2020 candidate, nonetheless echoed a line Garcetti uses, about how almost two dozen states are smaller than Los Angeles. “He has more experience than Trump ever had,” the source said.
But some in California politics, including Democrats, believe the ills of Los Angeles will also be hung on Garcetti’s neck in ads by Republicans should he run for president.
“I think this is just a job interview to get a B-list cabinet position,” one Democratic strategist said. “It’s hard for him to show a vision of America when homelessness is up.”
RUMBLINGS: Will Mark Cuban Run as a Republican “Just to Fuck With Trump?”
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and shark on the TV show “Shark Tank,” is about as well-known as Trump was before he ran, and hasn’t exactly shied away from speculation that he could also run for president.
In a conversation earlier this month with Mike Allen of Axios, Cuban mused that he would be more likely to run if Democrats were unable to wrest control of Congress from Republicans. “If the Democrats sweep, then you don’t need me, because there will be balance. If the Republicans hold, then I think there’s an opportunity for someone to run as an independent,” he said at the time.
But with the difficulty of mounting independent presidential runs being well-known (a wealthy candidate like Michael Bloomberg decided against an independent run because they have “no chance,”) two sources said Cuban doesn’t actually want to be president and is telling people he would run against Trump in the Republican primary “just to fuck with him.”
Reached by email and asked if this was his plan, Cuban told me he was “Not ready to discuss at this point.”
Is Beto O’Rourke Doing Enough to Make Texas Latino Voters Part of a Winning Campaign to Unseat Ted Cruz?
O’Rourke is raising millions of dollars, crisscrossing the state, and will tell you in pretty good Spanish that he hails from El Paso where 85 percent of residents are Mexican-American, so speaking to Latinos isn’t new to him. But in a race that national progressives have turned their eyes to because of their fundamental dislike for all things Ted Cruz, supporters in the state say it’s an open question whether O’Rourke is prioritizing Latino voters in his quest to expand his vote and win.
“I haven’t heard that he has any problem, except that he’s a Democrat running in Texas,” said San Antonio Democratic strategist Joaquin Guerra.
O’Rourke, Guerra said, is going to counties that a candidate hasn’t visited since Democrat Victor Morales’ surprise primary win in the 1996 U.S. Senate race. The $6.7 million he raised in the first quarter of 2018 tells Democrats their side is energized, and has made Republicans take notice, but the concern in Texas is always that the longterm investment that needs to be made to change the dynamics of the state isn’t happening.
“Folks are wondering how much is he investing in Texas for a sustainable electorate?” said a Texas operative working to elect O’Rourke. “Is he building political power after 2018, even if he’s not successful in November?”
Citing Wendy Davis, the operative said people are concerned because the state has seen a pattern of people running statewide but not investing in the future. “It’s so expensive to turn out Latinos—is he prioritizing that?”
The campaign did not respond to a request to provide information on what they’re doing to engage Latino communities but O’Rourke told Latino USA in March that the campaign had “more than 10,000 volunteers from across the state making phone calls and texting people in both English and Spanish.”
He also responded to an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman that said in the primary he “lost nearly every county in the Rio Grande Valley and took serious hits in counties with a large Latino population,” such as Harris, Dallas and Bexar counties. The article “made so much sense,” he said.
Still, O’Rourke insists he’s not taking any voters for granted and Democrats better hope he’s right. Because the problem with the comparison to Morales in 1996 is that while he energized voters —receiving 79% of the Latino and African-American vote, respectively— he ultimately lost to the Republican by 11 points.
The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2018 Interview
A changing Democratic Party has a lot of candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez running to win in 2018. Maybe they’re not Latina, maybe they have a different ethnic background. Perhaps they worked for the Bernie Sanders campaign, like she did, or were inspired by his insurgent candidacy, or just expect the party to change more quickly than they think the establishment wants to. But what they have in common is a belief that the odds don’t matter and they can win. Ocasio-Cortez is running in New York’s 14th congressional district against Rep. Joe Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus and chair of the Queens County Democratic Party. She spoke to Latino Briefing about why she’s running and what national Democrats could learn about reaching progressives and Latino voters. Edited for length.
ON WHY THESE PRIMARY BATTLES MATTER SO MUCH
In the broader scope, the entire country deserves to become more progressive. Red districts must swing blue and blue districts must swing bluer. This district is half-Bronx, half-Queens, and 70% people of color, and it’s never had someone of color represent them.
While I understand there are more conservative districts that might want more centrist leadership, there are solidly progressive communities that are being represented by corporate representation when it should be very working class. The foreclosure rate is 145% in the last year alone and luxury real estate developers profit off of those foreclosures. This district is absolutely one of those districts that represents the broader progressive movement, which is why I support a federal jobs guarantee, defunding ICE, and leading the charge on medicare for all.
ON LATINO POLITICAL POWER AND DEMOCRATIC PARTY MISCUES
There are broader questions Democrats have with the Latino community, it’s not clear cut, it’s complicated. One of the mistakes the Democratic party has made with Latinos is they take our community for granted. They see us all as racial minorities and they think we will act in the same ways. While I do think there is a strong case to be made within the Latino tent, it’s not as clear cut as they want it to be. On issues that impact our lives, Democrats have not shown up. Democrats championed the Civil Rights Act but floundered on the DREAM Act. When you take Trump out of the equation, historically Republicans have been very gracious. They rolled over on the DREAM Act and sold Puerto Rico to a corporate board. If Democrats want to turn out the sleeping giant that is the Latino electorate they need advocacy from candidates like me. I don’t just mean because I’m Latina but because I’m not being tokenized to advance causes that are not in the best interest of Latinos.
ON HER AVERSION TO IDENTITY POLITICS
The conversation about representation is different than identity politics. Tokenism is a problem in politics in general. The path forward is candidates that authentically represent communities. I’m one of the first candidates to call for defunding ICE while there are Latino incumbents that have not taken that position. That specific position for me is informed by the communities of Jackson Heights, Corona, and the Bronx.
ON HER VIRAL TWEETS
Twitter has been really powerful, I didn’t think it was going to be that way. When I first started I had 250 twitter followers. I do it all on my own and it’s emblematic of the fact that our campaign is very much speaking to a wider zeitgeist, touching a nerve of consciousness in the country. Some parts of the campaign are reflective that I’m a millennial candidate but we won’t do that “fellow kids” thing. We don’t have a problem that we want to say something but can’t because that guy gave me money. I’m just an unfiltered political candidate fighting for something good. One of the problems we’ve had as a party is we don’t acknowledge what Trump did well, like his use of Twitter.
BALANCING TAKING ON DEMOCRATS VS. THE REAL BOOGEYMAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE
It’s an important balance. When I first started the campaign the initial focus was on Trump in the White House. When I first started I was much more harsh on the Democratic Party because I’m a Bernie Bro (laughs.) Don’t print that!
But with the exception of swing districts, people are sick of candidates running on an “anti-Trump, not this” message. There should be a positive affirming message. When I stick to my issues it’s clear I’m fighting Trump without having to mention his Twitter feed. This guy is gross, offensive in every way, and he’s going to be a bad person seven days a week. If we focus on his messaging, the only thing it’s going to do is erode our mental health.
When I say “I’m going to abolish ICE, enough with this,” it’s an intrinsic way of fighting against his agenda. I come from activism, a frontline is just that, a frontline. I have dialed it back a notch since we first started, I never disparaged any individual people. But when Democrats are acting bogus on the DREAM Act, we’ll call it out.
That’s it! Please continue to let me know which organizations and operatives around the country I need to know about. I can’t do this without the incredible reach outs I receive from everyone and I appreciate it. Send me tips and scoops @Carrasquillo or firstname.lastname@example.org.