By Paul Nuñez
Editor’s Note: Paul Nunez is a member of the Connecticut delegation to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He is a lobbyist with DePino Associates and shares his observations of the convention and the Latino initiatives at the event with CTLatinonews.com.
As thousands of Democratic delegates, officials and operatives converge on Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Committee’s 2012 convention, the importance of courting the Latino vote is on full display.
At an event on Tuesday honoring Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chair of the convention, speakers such as U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilde Solis touted President Obama’s record on manufacturing jobs, increasing access to health care and educational opportunities.
Villaraigosa gave a taste of his primetime keynote relating to the crowd his humble beginnings and work ethic instilled by his parents. Hard work, opportunity in America, and family are also themes being projected by Latino surrogates of the President. Villaraigosa explained that Obamacare brought some 9 million Latinos access to healthcare.
The main event of course will be the nomination of President Barack Obama as the party’s candidate. Additional party business will be to vote on the official platform. Party conventions officially kick off the home stretch for both major parties’ appeals to voters.
State Rep. Matt Lesser, a DNC Platform Committee member, told me the platform is bold and progressive. It spells out a commitment to keep moving America forward by rebuilding middle class security and putting Americans back to work.
He said it calls for comprehensive immigration reform that “Supports our economic goals and reflects our values as a nation of immigrants. The platform endorses the DREAM Act and applauds the president for streamlining the process of legal immigration and the prioritizing the reunion of families.”
Barack Obama was the first President to visit Puerto Rico in 50 years and the platform contains a strong plank on Puerto Rico. It urges Boricuas to take local action to resolve the status issue, but says that if that does not happen then the President should support and Congress should enact self-executing legislation that specifies in advance for the people of Puerto Rico a set of clear status options.
The platform also discusses the economy of Puerto Rico, highlighting an increase in Medicaid payments for Puerto Ricans and calls for full and fair funding for Puerto Rico in federal programs. The platform adds, “we will continue to work on improving Puerto Rico’s economic status by promoting job creation, edcuation, health care, clean energy, and economic development on the Island.”
For the second consecutive electoral cycle Latinos have been a major focus of both parties. At the Republican National convention you saw up and comers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico.
The Democratic party will have their own Latino representation. From rank and file Democrats to prominent big city mayors, Latino faces and voices are in the crowd at the DNC in Charlotte–Connecticut’s delegation has seven Latinos from across the state participating.
For many of us Latinos in Connecticut the Democratic party has been our political home and where we we feel we wield most influence.
Photo (c) Democratic National Committee