Democrat Bernie Sanders, who still faces a long road for recognition and support in the Latino community, has hired a Latino Outreach director for the campaign.
Sanders, a Vermont senator, hired Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, a Latino advocacy group based in Los Angeles. Carmona also will serve as Southwest political director. The group, which is largely an online group, is considered more left than other more established Latino organizations.
As an activist on civil rights, Carmona, 37, said he never saw himself joining a political campaign, but "when I saw the political campaign and Sen. Sanders calling for a political revolution and people from all walks of life joining this movement, I said 'Hey, this is something I've seen that can make a difference.' I decided to join because I see a great need," he said.
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In a recently released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 30 percent of Latinos surveyed had a positive view of Sanders versus 12 percent who held a negative view. But 35 percent didn't recognize his name or weren't sure how they felt about him, compared to 2 percent for Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination.
"Bernie Sanders is not well known and I see that as a great opportunity and advantage because we have a fresh opportunity to present a remarkable candidate," Carmona said.
Sanders has made appearances before various Latino groups, including the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and participated in a Q&A session with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. But he has lagged behind Clinton in organizing a campaign staff of Latinos and developing a Latino outreach strategy. Clinton launched a Latinos for Hillary campaign this week.
However, Sanders has seen his poll numbers improve overall nationally and in some cases outdo Clinton's. He reported raising an impressive $26 million in the third quarter, better than expected, compared to Clinton's $28 million. Clinton still holds a significant lead over other candidates in fundraising for the year with $75 million.
Carmona was born in the U.S. to Mexican immigrants. His father was born in Hidalgo and raised in Mexico City and his mother was born in Colima and raised in Guadalajara.
Before Presente.org, Carmona served as the founding executive director of the Council of Mexican Federations, a coalition of hometown organizations, each made up of people from specific Mexican states. He also worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.