BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Democratic party has long been home to the majority of registered Latino voters. But former President Donald Trump’s gains among Latino voters in some battleground states in 2020 led both parties to take a closer look at that notion.
And this election cycle, it’s something the Republican National Committee is honing in on here in the Central valley.
On Monday, key figures in Kern County GOP politics including U.S. Representative David Valadao (R-Hanford), 16th district State Senate candidate David Shepard, 3rd district Supervisor candidate Jeff Flores and political consultant Cathy Abernathy gathered for the opening of the RNC’s new Hispanic Community Center on Stine Rd. in southwest Bakersfield.
RNC California Director of Communications Hallie Balch said the center will be used for meetings, events or any gatherings the community wants.
But it’s also a wider effort by the GOP to reach Hispanic voters here in the Central Valley and it’s part of larger movement taking place across the Country.
“The Republican National Committee has really been pouring into those communities that have been notoriously over looked by the Democrats,” Balch said.
Just last month Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy led House GOP leaders in celebrating the victory of Conservative Republican Mayra Flores, now the first Mexican-born Congresswoman, who won an election to fill a historically Democrat-dominant south Texas House seat.
“Hispanic values are notoriously values of family, of prosperity, of community, that’s just what we’re trying to encourage,” Balch said. “Because, as we like to say, Hispanic values are Republican values so that’s just the gap we’re trying to bridge.”
It could be especially relevant here in the Valley – where 16th Senate candidate Shepard and 22nd Congressional candidate Valadao are looking to overcome the Democrat-majority registration as Republicans in their heavily Latino districts.
Democrats out-register Republicans in the 16th Senate district by about 12% and Latinos make up 58% of the population. In the 22nd Congressional district, Democrats have an over 16% registration edge and Latinos makes up 59% of the population.
On the other side, Democratic political analyst Neel Sannappa points out the majority of Latino voters are still Democrats, but says Republicans are realizing demographics in the country are shifting.
“America is a changing country,” Sannappa said. “I think reality is seeping in and [the Republican party] is understanding they are going to have to diversify their party as well.”