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Congressional Hispanic Caucus' BOLD PAC adds $2.7M to boost Latino Democratic candidates

"We are going to meet them with the truth and information that voters deserve to have,” says BOLD PAC chair Rep. Tony Cárdenas.
Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar speaks during a campaign gathering and fund raising event in El Cajon, California
Ammar Campa-Najjar speaks during a meet and greet with constituents in El Cajon, Calif., on Sept. 26, 2018.Mike Blake / Reuters file

The political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is closing in on matching in this election cycle the $7 million it spent on behalf of Democratic candidates in the 2016 and 2018 cycles combined.

The political action committee BOLD PAC on Thursday said it would add $2.7 million for independent expenditures, bringing its total investment for such spending to $5.45 million.

That total is the largest amount the PAC has made on independent expenditures in a single cycle.

The spending comes after a successful primary, in which candidates that BOLD PAC supported, even when the party did not, won their elections. According to The Hill, BOLD PAC’s endorsement of Ritchie Torres of New York, who is Black and Latino, helped him edge out a top competitor in fundraising.

The PAC also was an early backer of Candace Valenzuela, who is Black and Latina, and won her primary in Texas congressional district 24. After her win, she picked up national Democratic support.

“In the general (election), Republicans are going to spend $5 million to $10 million in a particular congressional race. We are going to meet them with the truth and information that voters deserve to have,” said BOLD PAC chair Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.

“We are going to see more Latinos and Latinas join us and they are going to make a positive difference on health care, a positive difference in investing in our economy, a positive difference in making sure we bring 11 million people out of the shadows,” Cárdenas said.

Messaging paid for with independent expenditure money can advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, but cannot be coordinated with the campaign.

To comply with campaign finance laws, BOLD PAC keeps separate decisions on which candidates to support with the independent expenditure money.

However, seven candidates that BOLD PAC backed won their primaries. In addition to Torres and Valenzuela, they are Phil Arballo who is trying to unseat Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican, in California congressional district 22; Ammar Campa-Najjar who faces former Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, in California CD-50 and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez, who faces Democrat Sara Jacobs, a former in Obama administration staffer.

In California's primaries, the top two vote-getters face off in the general, regardless of party.

Campa-Najjar, who is of Latino and Middle Eastern descent, lost a tough race last year to Republican Duncan Hunter, who was under indictment at the time. Hunter has since been sentenced to 11 months in jail after pleading guilty to charges stemming from misuse of campaign funds for personal spending. The pandemic has delayed Hunter’s surrender date.

Campa-Najjar told NBC News he did not stop campaigning after the loss and has been working the past four years to build trust in the district that had been represented by Hunter or his father since 2008.

“We’ve been fending off the worst pandemic in 100 years without a congressman,” said Campa-Najjar, who started out as a young volunteer for the campaign of President Barack Obama and worked in the administration. “The 50th is silent. It has no voice during this whole, entire pandemic.”

Issa, Campa-Najjar's opponent, retired from Congress last year after 18 years representing other San Diego area districts.

“I don’t ever want to be a career politician," Issa told the Washington Post. "I want to always be somebody who is perfectly willing to work with people across the aisle, but also willing to engage in a fight worth fighting. I would say there’s plenty of both of those to be done right now."

Last week, Democrats added Campa-Najjar to their Red to Blue program that provides campaign help to candidates they think have a chance of flipping a congressional seat.

Other Latino candidates backed by BOLD PAC and in races to be decided in November are Christina Hale, who served in the Indiana General Assembly. She faces Republican Victoria Spartz for the state’s 5th congressional district.

The PAC also is supporting Teresa Leger Fernandez, who faces Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson for New Mexico’s 3rd district and Valenzuela who is squaring off with Republican Beth Van Duyne or Texas CD-24.

Gil Cisnerosspeaks during a rally on the Cal State Fullerton campus.Chris Carlson / AP

Incumbents backed by BOLD PAC are Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros, who is challenged again by Republican Young Kim, whom he defeated in 2018, for California congressional district 39; Rep. Mike Levin, who is in a race for California-49 against Bryan Maryott, a Republican. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American Latina elected to Congress, is running for re-election in Florida-26 against Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Rep. Xochtil Torres Small, a Democrat, faces Republican Yvette Herrell in New Mexico-2.

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