Bass Launches Latino Awareness Effort With Mariachi Plaza Event

With a citywide poll showing her in a stalemate with real estate developer Rick Caruso ahead of the June mayoral primary, Rep. Karen Bass on Tuesday launched a new effort to broaden her reach with Latino voters.

Latinos make up nearly a third of the city’s more than 2 million registered voters, according to Political Data Inc., and make up about a quarter of the likely electorate.

During a program in Boyle Heights that included a five-piece mariachi band, a mix of English and Spanish, and some of the best-known Latinos in California politics, Bass and his surrogates sought to explain why the Latinos are expected to support his campaign, citing his community organizing roots, his support for blue-collar workers and his long history with many leaders on the scene.

“This is not a new request for support from Karen Bass,” said Los Angeles school board member Mónica García. “She has been with us through our great challenges and our great triumphs.”

Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – an early endorser and prominent substitute for Bass – said he has known the congresswoman for nearly 50 years.

“She lived on the south side, I lived on the east side. And we were coming together around important issues in our community, bringing Latinos and African Americans together in this city,” Villaraigosa said, referring to the coalition work he and Bass did together in the early 1970s.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) urged the crowd on stage, many of whom were dressed in union t-shirts, to fight for Bass, imploring them to roam the enclosures and participate in phone banks .

Gabriel Montoya, an emergency medical technician and member of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said his union and other locals will work together to reach voters on the ground. (Councilman Kevin De León, also a candidate, also has strong support from local unions.)

Mariachi musician Arturo Ramirez photographs mayoral candidate Karen Bass during a campaign event at Mariachi Plaza on Tuesday.

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta cited her long history with Bass, saying she “comes from the grassroots” and noted that Bass had a Latino family.

Bass was introduced by his Latina daughter-in-law, Yvette Lechuga, who spoke of a more personal side to Bass rarely heard during the campaign trail. (Lechuga is the daughter of Bass’ former husband, Jesus Lechuga, and one of the congresswoman’s four stepchildren.)

“I don’t think people realize she’s been an amazing mother all that time behind the scenes,” Lechuga said, describing childhood trips to the beach and the museum and how Bass was by her side when ‘she battled leukemia and in the Lechuga delivery room. birth of the son. Bass’s young grandson, Henry DePaz, also joined them on stage.

Bass echoed Villaraigosa’s talk of southern and eastern coalitions when she took the stage, citing shared work on immigrant rights and police reform.

“We understood that everyone’s struggle was the same,” she said to hoarse applause. “They may be different issues, but the fact is that we were all fighting together for social and economic justice.”

The campaign’s new Latino outreach effort will be led by deputy campaign manager Frank Torres, who joined the Bass team this week and will oversee neighborhood organizing and outreach. Campaign spokeswoman Anna Bahr said the high-level surrogates will help guide the Latino outreach campaign and overall grassroots strategy.

A poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute for Government Studies, co-sponsored by The Times and released earlier this week, found no candidate was the clear frontrunner among Latino voters: Bass had 10% support of likely Latino voters, while De León had the support. 15% of Latino voters and real estate developer Rick Caruso polled 16%.

Half of likely Latino voters said they were undecided, compared with about a third of white or black voters.

De León, who is fluent in Spanish and the son of a single mother from Guatemala, represents the heavily Latino neighborhood where the Mariachi Plaza event took place, and Caruso aired television commercials in Spanish.

Los Angeles Times

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