By Sandra G. Leon
A meeting of nearly 100 Latino community leaders and activists in Los Angeles last week led to a historic endorsement of Bernie Sanders for President just two weeks before the California primary election.
The group, called the Latino Leadership Summit Committee for Sanders for President, was headed by former University of Riverside political science professor Dr. Armando Navarro, Professor Tinker Salas, historian from Pomona College, and retired professor of sociologist Jose Calderon from Pitzer College, and included various community activists that have come together to support Senator Sanders.
“Inspired by Sanders’ transformative agenda and driven by their determination to defeat the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump, Latino Summit participants adopted ‘El Plan de Riverside’,” Dr. Navarro said after the meeting. “It seeks to ignite the rise of a statewide and ultimately a nationwide “Latino Electoral Mobilization Movement,” Navarro added.
The group discussed how influential the Latino vote was in last week’s Nevada caucuses, where Sanders captured 53% of the Latino vote. Sanders won the Nevada contest with 47% of the vote; former Vice-President Joe Biden was second with 19.6%; former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received 15.3%; Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren garnered 10.1%, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was fifth with 4.6% of the vote.
The next primary will be on Saturday in South Carolina where nearly 100,000 Latinos are registered to vote. Both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are currently leading in most South Carolina election pools.
On March 3rd, California and 13 other states will hold their primary elections on what is called “Super Tuesday” because nearly half of all convention delegates are up for grabs on that one day. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia will all vote on Super Tuesday.
Latinos currently total nearly 16 million of California’s 39.5 million residents, including nearly 5 million registered voters. A poll taken in November 2019 reported that 74% of California Latino voters expect to vote in the March 3rd California Primary. Nearly 58% of Latino voters are registered Democrats, 18% Republican, and the other 24% as Independents or non-partisan voters.
According to the Pew Research Center, the Latino population in the US totals approximately 60 million people and constitutes the largest racial minority group in the 2020 presidential election.
Latinos now constitute at least 11% of the country’s total registered voters, which translates to approximately 16 million registered Latino voters.
“Bernie represents a transformative change,” Professor Calderon said. “His policies on immigration reform, climate change, universal health care, job creation, minimum wage increase to $15.00 per hour, major cutbacks on defense spending, and non-interventionist oriented foreign policy are resonation with the Latino electorate,” Calderon added.
Many Latinos compare Senator Sanders to Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist politician that won a landslide election in 2018 on a platform of reform that included increasing financial aid for 11 million students, doubling pensions for the elderly, doubling the federal minimum wage, amnesty for non-violent drug criminals, ending the war on drugs and the legalization of some drugs like marijuana, and construction of 100 universities with universal access to public colleges. Like Sanders, Lopez Obrador ran a populist campaign against political corruption and the excesses of the rich.
Juan Jose Gutierrez of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition stated, “Trump himself is the Latino community’s greatest energizing and propelling force. He represents a severe threat to immigrants and to the survival of both the planet and the U.S. Ya Basta, enough of Trump’s attacks on Mexicanos and immigrants. We must electorally mobilize and in solidarity with others, organize to ensure his defeat in the November 3rd presidential elections.”
California voters can vote by mail up until election day on March 3rd, and polls will be open on March 3rd from 7 am to 8 pm.