By CHUCK ROCHA
Despite the fact that the representation of Latinos in politics has increased in recent years, historically Latino candidates have faced great challenges in fundraising at the national level. While small donations from Latino donors have led to millions of dollars in national campaign fundraising, many Latino candidates suffer from a lack of access to major donors and a general lack of investment from the Democratic establishment.
But thanks to one Senate candidate from Arizona, that paradigm may be changing.
Congressman Rubén Gallego, who is running for the United States Senate in Arizona, has made history by raising more money in the first fundraising quarter than any other Latino Democrat in the history of U.S. politics. This is particularly impressive because Gallego, his family, and close relatives are not wealthy people.
What is even more remarkable is that he raised a significant portion of funds thanks to Latinos from all over the country, predominantly in Arizona, who support his candidacy. Gallego has also raised a significant amount of money from Latino donors online, debunking right-wing politicians’ claims that the Latino vote is shifting toward the Republican Party.
Gallego is proving that this assertion is false by raising record funds from Latinos, on par with the numbers of Bernie Sanders, who also had enormous support from the Latino community and won the Latino vote in every state he committed to during the 2020 primaries.
All of this did not happen by accident. Rubén has been building his reputation as an advocate for the working class for years and has been creating the necessary infrastructure to address the growing frustration surrounding Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). When combined with the growing outrage in the Latino community over Sen. Sinema’s voting record, which has wreaked havoc on the Latino working middle class, Gallego’s fundraising record in the first quarter is impressive.
Fundraising can directly correlate with the timing and support of one’s followers. Gallego has figured out how to convey his working-class success story to an Arizona community that is starving for change.
Although there is still over a year left, voters are already expressing their frustration with the political system of the rich and powerful by giving Gallego $10. You cannot raise money from thousands of voters in this way without a compelling narrative about how their lives can be improved and relating to their frustrations.
Rubén Gallego is breaking the mold of how to fundraise as a Latino candidate. When stories are written about how he won this election, it will be because he was able to raise enough money to compete in a state where the Latino vote will make the difference and as a candidate for the community and advocate for the working class. The community is showing its support for Gallego through donations, and that could well be the difference in this election.
When I went on the tour in Arizona where Gallego announced his campaign, I could feel the energy in every place he visited. There was something different about him and the way people, especially Latinos, react to him. Initially, I dismissed my excitement and adrenaline of seeing one of my good friends run for the U.S. Senate.
But after reviewing the first quarter donation numbers, I realized that my initial reaction was correct. What is being built in Arizona is very special and exactly what Arizona voters want.
Rubén Gallego’s fundraising success is a testament to his ability to connect and inspire Latino voters, as well as his commitment to fight for the working community. As the first Latino Democrat to raise so much money in the first quarter of his career, Rubén is breaking barriers and paving the way for future Latino candidates. The energy and emotion surrounding his candidacy are palpable, and it is clear that he has touched a nerve with voters in Arizona and across the country.
I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Rubén Gallego and his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Chuck Rocha is a senior adviser to Rep. Rubén Gallego (D-AZ) and the founder of Solidarity Strategies, a political consulting firm dedicated to progressive causes. He is the author of ‘Tío Bernie.’ Twitter: @ChuckRocha
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