Female Candidates of All Ethnicities and Races Face Fundraising Challenges

When Victoria Neave was 18, she remembers watching a Latina run for Congress in North Texas and thinking, "If she can do it, I can do it."Now 36 and a state representative from Dallas County, Neave knows what it's like to run for office and face a daunting but common challenge — not having a strong donor base. She offset it by recruiting scores of volunteers to help her canvass as many neighborhoods as possible in the district she now represents.Neave's experience in running for public office is not unique. Many women, of all ethnicities and races, face the same challenges, especially in fundraising.And, as Marjorie Clifton, spokeswoman for Annie's List, points out, "We are now seeing a diversity of candidates that is truly more reflective of the population of the state."Of the 16 women local candidates that the statewide PAC endorsed, half are Latinas.That should come as no surprise. Hispanics now represent 44 percent of the state's population and are the largest ethnic group in the state.Jodi Perry is a member of Texas Latina List, a statewide PAC that works to increase the number of Latinas who are elected and appointed to public office. She has seen an increase in the number of Latinas running for office since the group was founded five years ago."Each election cycle, we have a record number of Latinas running," Perry said.Since the presidential election, though, women in general are seeking representation for their communities, said Emma Preciado, the group's president.Women's rights, reproductive rights and immigration all have motivated many women to run for office, especially Latinas, Preciado said.As of today, the group has endorsed eight Latina candidates for local elections in May and will be interviewing or considering six more.Data compiled by the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials shows that the number of Latinas serving in local offices (county, municipal, school board, special district, judicial and law enforcement) increased from 1,776 to 2,092 between 2010 and 2016 — an 18 percent increase, according to Rosalind Gold, the group's senior director for policy, research and advocacy.These local offices are important because they represent the pipeline for state legislative and higher offices.So why are more Latinas stepping up to the plate?Gold points to a number of factors. High on the list is building and strengthening a political infrastructure."As Latinas become part of a network of all elected officials, Latinas get access to same kinds of resources as other elected officials," she said.Latinas have always had a strong commitment to public service, she said, but lacked several factors to be successful: the ability to raise money, get endorsements, put together the kinds of coalitions you need to get elected, and demonstrate that you can govern effectively.That is all changing now.She expects to see steady progress."What we're watching now are partisan trends or influences and the intensity of issues that affect the Latino community right now, such as health care, educational opportunities and the dialogue around immigration," she said.School budget cuts by the state Legislature motivated Neave to run last year.But she was also aware that, as a Latina, she would bring a different perspective to public service."I feel a big responsibility to bring a different voice and perspective," Neave said, "and I want to be a voice for women and working families."  Continue reading...

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