Strong Choice

Hillary Clinton’s choice of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) for vice president is being greeted by Latinos as a good move and one that many say will help energize the community to vote in November.

“She has chosen a running mate that has a track record of advocating and fighting for the issues that affect the Latino community and our nation,” said Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit group that promotes greater participation in the nation’s political process. “Her choice sets a new chapter in this year’s historic election. We are mobilizing our communities and registering as many eligible Latino voters as possible. Come Election Day, we will help candidates who are willing to fight for our families.”

“Senator Tim Kaine has a long history of fighting for justice, opportunity and equality. During his time in the Senate, he has worked to advance economic policies that would put more money in the pockets of hardworking Latino and American families,” adds Pili Tobar, Advocacy and Communications Director for the Latino Victory Fund, the political action committee of the nonpartisan Latino Victory Project, a group that advocates for greater Latino voter turnout and a greater number of Latino candidates in elected office. “Senator Kaine is no stranger to the Latino community - he spent time in Honduras running a technical Jesuit school, and throughout his career, as one of the few Spanish speakers in the Senate, he has consistently put emphasis on communicating with our community, hearing and addressing their concerns.”

There have been some rumblings on social media lamenting the fact that Clinton did not pick one of the Latinos on the short list – including HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), and Labor Secretary Tom Pérez – but Kaine’s addition to the Clinton presidential ticket is being touted by most as the best move to ensure a Clinton win in November.

“It’s a smart choice for Latinos and for all Americans. Tim Kaine is a true friend and ally of the Latino community. He has proven himself a leader through advocacy on immigration and common sense gun reform. It has been his life’s journey to create an equal playing field for Latino families,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), chair of CHC BOLD PAC, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “The addition of Tim Kaine to the Democratic ticket is proof that Hillary Clinton is committed to bringing issues important to Latinos and other diverse communities to the forefront.”

“I think this is a great selection. He brings a lot to the Democratic ticket,” added Democratic strategist Melisa Díaz. “He has integrity, he has a lot of experience and he has a lot of community activism under his belt. I think he will be able to help Clinton get some Republican voters because he is a centrist politically, and he will also bring those who are still on the fence and undecided about whether to vote for her. He has ties not just in the Latino community, but also in the African American community. He’s the type of candidate who looks to build and bring groups together. We’ve seen with the GOP nominee talking about building walls and denying entry into the country to certain groups because of their religious beliefs or ethnic origin. The Democrats are a sharp contrast to that with Clinton and Kaine.”

And while it’s not surprising that most Democrats would welcome Kaine to the ticket, Latino Republicans for the most part are also looking at the Kaine selection as a smart move, even if they remain skeptical that it will help round up GOP votes for the Democratic ticket.

“I disagree with him on some policy issues and he has been quite partisan, but he is a good guy and a decent guy. He’s a centrist and it was a nice, safe pick for Clinton,” said Danny Vargas, a Republican businessman and former political candidate from Kaine’s home state of Virginia who knows Kaine well. “I’m not sure that it’s going to necessarily translate into [Republican] votes for Clinton because of her stance on the issues, and while he is a centrist, he is still left leaning. But if she wins in November, Tim Kaine is someone the private sector can work with.”

Luis Alvarado, a Republican strategist in California, says Kaine’s selection is just one example of the sharp contrast shaping up between the two major party nominees. “I don’t think I can get to the point where I can vote for Hillary Clinton, but I have a sense of serenity knowing that at least the Democrats are attempting to reach the multitude of communities that compose this great country,” he said. “I am saddened that Donald Trump has doubled down on going after the extreme side of our [Republican] base with a message of darkness and hatred. The Democrats can go forward with a message of being hopeful and of thinking of a brighter future, and that is more powerful that a message of gloom and doom.”

Alvarado says that while Clinton has overwhelming support among Latinos, Kaine will most certainly help bring in other key voters: “He checks most of the boxes of what Hillary Clinton needs to be able to come across and gain the support of others. The fact that Tim Kaine has roots in the Latino community and is fluent in Spanish just happens to be a plus for her, but the real battlefield in this election will be in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, where lifelong Democrats fine Donald Trump to be an attractive candidate. That’s where Tim Kaine can help. I think she made the right decision for her campaign.”

Patricia Guadalupe