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U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is launching an aggressive effort to recruit more Hispanic and Latino candidates to compete next year in swing districts with open seats or Republican incumbents.

Why it matters: U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who chairs the CHC BOLD PAC, told Axios he believes running more Hispanic Democratic candidates could increase Latino voter engagement and the prospects for a midterm blue wall keeping Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

  • But some districts will be shaped by the once-a-decade redistricting process playing out over the coming months.
  • With just a handful of votes deciding control, the House of Representatives, Democrats are anxious after Republicans made some gains with Hispanic voters in 2020.

What they're saying: "We are winning or losing a lot of these swing districts by really small margins," Gallego told Axios. "In a lot of swing districts, we're seeing somewhere between 20% Latino, sometimes up to 50% or even more Latino (voters), who can change the outcome."

  • Gallego told Axios the PAC has begun recruiting with plans to tailor individual candidates to fit newly drawn districts — and that when it comes to candidate ideology, the approach is pragmatic.
  • "We don't go looking only for progressives or moderates or conservatives," he said. "We want to make sure that we get the right Latino, and Democrats, to win the district."

The big picture: Advocacy group Voto Latino held a Power Summit last week featuring civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and Georgia voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams to galvanize Latino activists and train advocates on voter outreach.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is dispatching 48 organizing directors around the U.S. to boost “strategic outreach and build trust,” among communities of minority voters in midterm battlegrounds, the AP reported in July and a DCCC spokesman, Adrian Eng-Gastelum, confirmed to Axios.

The other side: The National Republican Congressional Committee is launching its own Latino engagement with Hispanic Community Centers to share GOP ideas and build on Trump's support.

  • NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said the GOP will portray Democrats as having a “socialist agenda focused on defunding the police, opening our borders and increasing taxes," and predicted that image would be "toxic" with many Hispanic voters.
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), whose district runs from the outskirts of San Antonio to the Rio Grande, told Axios in November that "defund the police" rhetoric and progressive climate ideas that threaten oil jobs had boosted former President Donald Trump's performance in traditionally blue, largely Latino counties in his state.
  • Last year, Republican Yvette Herrell defeated then Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat, in a conservative-leaning district in southern New Mexico. At least one progressive Hispanic Democrat has said he will challenge Rep. Herrell next year.

By the numbers: The U.S. House has 47 Hispanic members, including two nonvoting delegates and the resident commissioner, per the Congressional Research Service. Nearly 3 in 4 are Democrats.

  • There are six Hispanic senators; four Democrats and two Republicans.

The intrigue: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus began as a bipartisan organization but is now comprised only of Democrats. The Congressional Hispanic Conference members are Republicans.

Get more news that matters about Latinos in the hemisphere, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sign up for the Axios Latino newsletter.

Go deeper

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett poised to run in proposed Austin district

The proposed map for Texas' congressional districts. Courtesy: Texas Legislative Council

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a longtime Democratic congressman from Austin, indicated to Axios that he plans to announce his run for a seat in a newly proposed congressional district in Austin.

Why it matters: The recently crafted district, part of the redrawing of political boundaries every 10 years to account for population growth, is expected to be a safe Democratic seat that will include parts of Travis and Williamson counties.

  • It's also seen as a natural fit for Doggett, who spent his tenure as a political survivor in gerrymandered districts that have stretched to South Texas.
  • The creation of the Austin congressional seat is part of an effort by Texas Republican lawmakers to protect GOP incumbents across the state and win back political power in Washington.

What he's saying: "For years, I had the good fortune to represent all of Austin, the only city I have ever called home," Doggett told Axios. "After then being switched across Texas to Rio Grande City, LaGrange and San Antonio, Republicans have now created District 37, which for now reunites many of the Austin neighborhoods I was first elected to represent."

  • "Though designed for the wrong reasons and refusing to acknowledge that 95% of the growth in Texas has been from people of color, this new gerrymander seems to at least mean that most Travis County residents will no longer be forced into districts of Trump-supporting Congress members," he continued.

"I will be asking neighbors to permit my continued service in Washington as a voice for our shared values."

State of play: Doggett has built deep loyalties and a wide network in his decades in office. Ahead of his announcement, other possible candidates included:

Wendy Davis, the former Democratic state senator who drew national headlines for her 13-hour filibuster over a restrictive abortion measure.

  • She's sought higher office before, facing a bruising defeat in her 2014 gubernatorial bid against now-Gov. Greg Abbott. U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R) narrowly defeated Davis in 2020 for a seat representing a slice of Austin and the Hill Country.
  • Davis, who lives in Austin, has punted questions about a possible run, saying instead she has "serious legal concerns" with the map: "Discussions around who may or may not run for election and in which districts is not the right conversation to have at this time."
    • A spokesman for Davis declined to comment further.

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, an Austin Democrat, was also seen as a possible contender for the new seat.

  • Her state House district fits squarely in the new 37th Congressional District, and she drew national attention when she joined Democrats in fleeing the state earlier this year to break quorum over a sweeping GOP-led voting bill.
  • Hinojosa previously said it's not the time to discuss possible candidates for the district. She maintained that position Friday, telling Axios she's "trying to protect the voting interests of Travis County" and "will make a decision about next steps once maps are voted out."

What's next: In what amounts to a field-clearing move, Doggett isn't waiting for the congressional map to be finalized.

  • Doggett said he will make his decision about where to run publicly on Monday outside Bryker Woods Elementary, the same location as his original announcement for Congress. He was first elected to Congress in 1994.

Names floated for Doggett's old district include:

  • Austin City Council Member Greg Casar
  • State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat
  • Julián Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and Obama-era Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Yes, but: While Castro's name recognition and cash-raising prowess would make him a favorite for the seat, the job may not best position him for a statewide run in 2024 against Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. A spokesman for Castro did not return Axios' request for comment.

Our thought bubble: Even as Austin finally gets its own Democrat in Congress, it comes at the cost of communities of color across the state getting sliced and diced. Republicans did not add a new Hispanic-majority district in Texas, despite the group driving much of the state's population growth.

John Frank, author of Denver
19 hours ago - Axios Denver

How the pandemic impacted Latinos in Colorado

Data: MOE +/- 3.1%; Chart: John Frank/Axios

A new poll released today finds the COVID-19 pandemic took a particularly hard toll on Latino families in Colorado.

By the numbers: 6 in 10 said they lost a job or saw their work hours cut, while nearly as many reported difficulty paying bills.