State Democrats Going After Latino Voters - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State Democrats Going After Latino Voters

YAKIMA, Wa -  State Democrats have made a strategic move to target Latino voters in the November elections.  They're hoping a grassroots campaign to register 5,000 new Latino voters will help tip the November elections in their favor.

The 14th and 15th legislative districts will be the frontlines in this for Latino voters.

Fitz Reyes is a volunteer for the 2006 Latino Vote Project.  He'll help to coordinate the State Democratic Party's campaign to get out the Latino vote.

"We have one of the most ambitious, comprehensive efforts to get out, connect, reach out to the Latino population," says Reyes.

State Democrats say there are 79,000 Latinos living in the 14th and 15 legislative districts.  They hope the debate over immigration will work to their advantage.  They believe many in the Latino community are upset with the State Republicans stance on the issue. 

State Republicans say the core values of the Latino community don't align with the platform of State Democrats. 

"The Catholic Church is adamantly opposed to abortion.  The vast majority of Latinos are Catholic.  Why would they support the Democrats platform," says John Tierney, Committee Chair of the Yakima County Republican Party.

Reyes says they already have information on candidates, registration forms, and pamphlets in Spanish.  But, the question remains, will they reach out to enough Latino voters over the next few months to make a difference?

According to 2000 census data, there are just over 44,000 Latinos who are old enough to vote in Yakima County.  The County Auditor says there is no information on how Latinos are actually citizens with the right to vote.  The Auditor's Office says that 14,338 voters with Latino surnames are registered.

In the last general election, voter turnout for Latinos was low at just under 30%.

State Democrats site two recent elections to point out just how crucial a few thousand new votes can be.

Chris Gregoire won the 2004 Governor's race by less than 200 votes and Maria Cantwell won her race for the US Senate by about 2,000 votes.