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Dems Name Two Latinas in Congressional "Red to Blue" List

Image: U.S. Citizens Head To The Polls To Vote In Presidential Election
File photo of voters exiting a polling location after voting on November 6, 2012 in Lipan, Texas. Tom Pennington / Getty Images

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced candidates they think can win Republican-held districts, and the list includes two Latinas from California and New Mexico. The candidates, who still have to win their party primaries, will get support from the national Democrats as part of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program.

Amanda Renteria is running against freshman Republican Tea Party congressman David Valadao (R-Calif.) The district is over 70 percent Hispanic. Last fall, Valadao was one of three Republicans in the House who co-sponsored a House version of the Senate bipartisan immigration bill, which has since languished in the House.

Renteria, whose parents immigrated from Mexico, made history as the first Latina to serve as a chief of staff in the Senate, working for Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow. She earned an MBA from Harvard and worked in Goldman Sachs before returning to California to teach math. She went on to work for California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and then Stabenow. The wife and mother of two young children, she announced her candidacy last September, saying “I’m running because I grew up here, and I believe the Valley needs a strong voice in Washington.”

In New Mexico, attorney Roxanne "Rocky" Lara hopes to face Republican congressman Steve Pearce. Lara, who was also Eddy County, N.M. commissioner, has criticized Pearce for opposing a path to citizenship on immigration reform; he has said he is opposed but favors a guest worker program instead.

Lara practices family law and specializes in children's cases, and has served in mayoral commissions and boards. She was born and raised in Carlsbad, N.M. Her dad was a miner and school board member and her mother was in a food services union. "New Mexicans deserve someone in Congress who is committed to our needs and values, but we haven't been getting that from Washington lately," she said last September, when she announced her candidacy.

Republicans announce Hispanic Advisory Council

On the GOP side, the Republican National Committee announced Monday it was launching a Hispanic Advisory Council composed of elected officials as well as other Latino leaders to advise the party and "ensure we are communicating our Republican message to the Hispanic community across the country,” according to Izzy Santa, Hispanic media spokeswoman for the RNC.

The council includes elected officials such as Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Colorado Gov. Brian Sandoval, as well as former former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, who lives in California, and Illinois-based Jovita Carranza, who served as deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration.

After Republican Mitt Romney obtained less than 30 percent of the Latino vote in 2012, the RNC rolled out its Growth and Opportunity Project vowing to expand Latino outreach and build a grassroots infrastructure.