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How the women leading Democrats' push for Latino votes hope to win on abortion

California Rep. Linda Sanchez is the first woman to run the BOLD Pac in its 22-year history. The organization is home to the fundraising effort for Democrats' Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Catie Dull
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NPR
California Rep. Linda Sanchez is the first woman to run the BOLD Pac in its 22-year history. The organization is home to the fundraising effort for Democrats' Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

MONTEBELLO, CALIF. — Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, the head of a Latino Democratic PAC, is visiting a busy coffeeshop in her home district in Los Angeles County.

She sees a common mission here. This coffee shop is part of an incubator effort for Latino businesses in the area. Sanchez wants to be an incubator for Latino votes.

"I'm on this mission to convince Latinos that we need more of them in Congress if we want the Congress to look like the America that it's supposed to represent," says Sanchez.

Sanchez is the first woman to serve as chair of BOLD PAC, the fundraising arm for Democrats' Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The 22-year old organization helps elect and support Latino candidates and works with elected members to organize and advocate for policies.

Now, for the first time Sanchez is par of a larger team of women raising money for the group.

BOLD PAC executive director Victoria McGroary argues having women at the forefront of the organization is key heading into the 2024 elections.
Catie Dull / NPR
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NPR
BOLD PAC executive director Victoria McGroary argues having women at the forefront of the organization is key heading into the 2024 elections.

BOLD PAC executive director Victoria McGroary says she and the other women on this team bring a critical perspective to the fight for Latino votes in an election where abortion will play a major role.

"We want to defend our incumbents and get more Latinos and Latinas elected to Congress," says McGroary.

Latinos could help win elections in key districts

McGroary says having women at the forefront of the organization is key heading into the 2024 elections, especially as they focus on voters who could swing control of Congress and the White House.

"Latinas are critically important to our efforts not only in taking back the House, but also in defending the majority in the Senate and defending the White House as well," she said.

Sanchez and McGroary point to Democrats' success in the 2022 midterm elections. They said Latino voters were critical to winning in tight races an those same voters are increasingly important to success in battleground states like as Pennsylvania and Arizona.

North Carolina Congressman Richard Hudson knows that argument quite well.

North Carolina Republican Rep. Richard Hudson talks to reporters in 2020.
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North Carolina Republican Rep. Richard Hudson talks to reporters in 2020.

Hudson chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, the political arm of the House GOP. He thinks Democrats have it wrong.

"Well, (Latinos) are huge voting bloc and they're certainly a bloc that Republicans continue to do better with," Hudson said. "I think we share values and I think we'll continue to do our outreach and we expect them to be a big part of our winning coalition."

Hudson argues that Democrats have taken Latino voters for granted. Republicans want take advantage of that to win more House districts in places like Texas, California and Florida.

Those targets also include Pennsylvania and Oregon, where smaller populations of Latino voters could mark the difference who controls Congressional chambers with razor-thin margins.

Abortion messaging could be a critical part of the campaign

Back at the L.A. County coffee shop, Sanchez says Republicans are missing one glaring obstacle this upcoming election cycle.

"They continue to be be have in their blind spot the fact that reproductive rights are very motivating issue," Sanchez said.

In surveys, a growing majority of Latinos, similar to other groups in the country, see access to abortion is a top issue, and that abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

A key value for Democrats.

Oregon Congresswoman Andrea Salinas knows that first hand — the freshman Democrat saw abortion play out as a major issue in her first election.

Washington state Democratic Rep. Andrea Salinas speaks at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event welcoming new Latino members to Congress at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in November 2022 in Washington, D.C.
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Washington state Democratic Rep. Andrea Salinas speaks at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus event welcoming new Latino members to Congress at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in November 2022 in Washington, D.C.

"Oregon has always been very strong in defending reproductive rights," Salinas said.

Salinas was the first Latina elected to Congress from the Oregon, and her district includes the state's largest share of Latinos.

Salinas was recruited by BOLD PAC, who helped her overcome a huge spending disadvantage in one of the most expensive congressional races in the country. One key Democratic opponent was funded by ex-cryptocurrency magnet Sam Bankman-Fried, who was convicted of financial crimes in last month.

"I had a really tough election and if it weren't for BOLD PAC stepping up for Latinas in our last cycle... I know I wouldn't be here today," she said.

BOLD PAC team members including director of communications Diana Castañeda (left), senior political coordinator Danna Rodas, chairwoman Rep. Linda Sánchez and executive director Victoria McGroary.
Catie Dull / NPR
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NPR
BOLD PAC team members including director of communications Diana Castañeda (left), senior political coordinator Danna Rodas, chairwoman Rep. Linda Sánchez and executive director Victoria McGroary.

BOLD PAC's members argue that although Democrats lost the House in the last election cycle for the 2022 midterms, they defeated plans for a red wave.

McGroary says that old playbook, plus a bigger wave of Latino voters expected to turn out next year will spell blue wins across the country come next November.

"I think we will absolutely be talking about how Latinos showed up, how they mobilized their community," McGroary says, "and they got to the polls and they voted for Democrats."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: December 29, 2023 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier photo caption incorrectly identified the state that Rep. Andrea Salinas represents. The congresswoman represents Oregon's 6th district.
Claudia Grisales
Claudia Grisales is a congressional correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.