By Rafael Bernal, the Hill
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s campaign arm on Thursday rolled out three new endorsements of Democratic candidates in the Southwest.
Bold PAC endorsed Long Beach Mayor Robert García and California Assemblymember Rudy Salas for House seats in California, and Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez for a seat in New Mexico.
“Bold PAC stands with these candidates who understand the struggles of the Latino community, share our values, and will be leading voices in Congress,” said group Chair Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) in a statement.
García is running ahead of the pack in an open district that now stretches from central Los Angeles to the port of Long Beach, combining areas currently represented by retiring Democratic Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Alan Lowenthal.
Salas and Vasquez are challenging sitting Republican Reps. David Valadao (Calif.) and Yvette Herrell (N.M.), respectively.
The redistricting process in both districts has eased the way for Democrats to claim the two GOP-held seats.
New Mexico’s old electoral map had two heavily Democratic districts and a heavily Republican one; it now has two competitive districts with a slight Democratic lean and a solidly Democratic district.
Under the old maps, New Mexico’s 2nd District remained under Republican control since the early 1980s with two brief exceptions from 2009 to 2011 and 2018 to 2020.
Vasquez, who is running in the district that encompasses the state’s entire international border with Mexico and is larger than all of Pennsylvania, said he chose to run even before the redistricting process cleared his path.
“Some people were surprised that a candidate would step up for this campaign before seeing the redistricting process play out,” Vasquez told The Hill.
“I knew that our legislature had a task at hand to draw new maps that I think are fair and balanced, but I would’ve run for this district even if the maps stayed the same,” he added.
New Mexico’s 2nd is a solid pickup opportunity for Democrats in a year with strong national headwinds as the party seeks to minimize losses and hold on to its paper-thin congressional majority.
Democrats are also looking to California as a state that in the past yielded them valuable House seats, but also painful defeats in districts they believed were solidly in their camp.
Salas is running to once again unseat Valadao, a moderate Republican who’s been active among the GOP’s minority of members who are pushing for immigration reform including legalized status for undocumented workers.
Valadao, who lost to former Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.) in 2018, recovered his seat in 2020.
Salas’s challenge will likely depend heavily on voter participation in the new district, which despite radically changed borders is rated only slightly more Democratic than its previous iteration.
Still, reelection is an uphill battle for Valadao, particularly if Salas is able to convince Hispanic voters to head to the polls in a midterm election.
“[Salas] is someone who knows how to win, he is someone who has fought really hard as an elected official in the State Assembly for all kinds of things that really matter for our community, and he’s the type of Democrat that can really mobilize our community within that district and get them excited just to get out there and vote,” said Bold PAC executive director Victoria McGroary.