Each election cycle, “Latino Outreach” becomes a buzz word of sorts, as pundits and political consultants discuss ways campaigns can capture the Hispanic vote. Campaign staff scramble to establish contacts, build coalitions, train Hispanic surrogates and connect with local Latino leaders. Yet, unfortunately, at the end of each campaign cycle, many times the political infrastructure created by the campaigns disappear. Many of the contacts are forgotten and Latino leaders feel burned by another campaign “aprovechado” to get their vote… and then the cycle starts all over again….
Leaders at the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN) hope to end this broken cycle. In an interview with the Washington Post, HLN’s Executive Director Jennifer Korn said they hope to establish “a concerted effort on an outgoing basis to engage the Hispanic community.” The group hosted its’ inaugural event in January 2011 in Miami with co-chairs Governor Jeb Bush, Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and over 400 Hispanic leaders from across the country. Now it’s ramping up efforts with a second conference, this time in New Mexico. According to the WP:
“On tap is an HLN gathering on Sept. 23-24 in New Mexico that will invite “Hispanic leaders already engaged” in Republican politics but also “cast a wide net” to reach new voters, candidates and political operatives”
Hispanic Leadership Network’s Re-Building the American Dream Conference will be held on September 23–24, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This two-day conference, taking place during Hispanic Heritage Month, will address how to rebuild the American Dream during these tough financial times. The topics on the agenda include the economy, education, home ownership, immigration and Hispanic youth. Participants will also participate in media training and discussions on the 2012 election. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will headline the conference. For more details or to register go to: http://www.hispanicleadershipnetwork.org.
The Hispanic Leadership Network is an initiative of the American Action Network, headed by former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. HLN is a national long-term grassroots effort to “engage center-right Hispanics on issues that will restore opportunity and prosperity to America.” Discussing the million dollar effort with the Associated Press, Senator Coleman said:
“We believe that center-right vision is what America needs to move forward,” Coleman said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “… If that vision is to remain a majority vision in the country, Hispanics are going to have to be a big part of that. We recognize the importance of reaching out and connecting with the Hispanic community so we are all working together to build the American dream.”…
Coleman said the Hispanic Leadership Network was established as a long-term project to celebrate strides Hispanics like [Governor Susana] Martinez made in the last elections and create an ongoing conversation with Hispanic communities around the country. “This is not a one-time, rah-rah, get folks fired up,” he said. “This is a sustained commitment for the American Action Network.”
As I have stated many times, as Latinos we should embrace efforts to engage, educate and empower Hispanic voters, who are expected reach 22 million in 2012. A very diverse and non-monolithic 22 million.
The Latino conservative movement needs to be better organized if it hopes to reach national success. In the past, funding has been an issue for some groups focused on connecting with Hispanic Republicans. Relying on campaigns for a political infrastructure has demonstrated to hurt long-term sustainability. Well financed efforts like HLN can serve as a strong step forward for center-right Hispanics. By establishing an ongoing system that identifies and trains conservative Latinos at a grassroots level, we will be able to nurture a new generation of Hispanic leaders.