A major Hispanic group reversed itself on Friday to endorse U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., for re-election, a big boost for the congressman’s campaign with immigration reform a challenging issue this year.
Initially, the nine-member board of Hispanics in Politics endorsed Heck’s Democratic opponent, Erin Bilbray, after a membership vote at the end of last week. The members chose Heck, but the governing board of the influential group didn’t agree with their decision and overruled its own members.
Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, didn’t offer details Friday about whether he and the board were pressured by members upset by being overruled.
“The Board went with the vote of the membership,” Romero said. “Joe Heck gets the endorsement.”
Heck represents the 3rd Congressional District in Clark County, including Boulder City and Henderson.
The endorsements were published Friday by the Spanish-language weekly newspaper El Mundo. Such endorsements can carry weight with the Hispanic community, which makes up about 27 percent of Nevada’s population.
“We are pleased that the members of Hispanic in Politics have endorsed Joe Heck and look forward to continued work with so many individuals committed to a better Nevada.” said Ryan Erwin, a senior adviser to Heck’s campaign.
Bilbray’s campaign has suffered setbacks, including loss of two campaign managers. Most national analysts say Heck is likely to win the Nov. 4 election, although the district is nearly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
Hispanics in Politics also made another surprising endorsement, backing Republican Dr. Annette Teijeiro over U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., delivering a shock to the incumbent in the 1st Congressional District.
As expected, the group overwhelmingly backed Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s first Hispanic governor, for re-election in the Nov. 4 general election, over little-known Democrat Bob Goodman.
The organization is waiting until Oct. 15 to endorse in the other statewide contests because most of those candidates have yet to appear before the group, Romero said.
On immigration, Heck has said he favors fixing the broken system, but he said he doesn’t back a U.S. Senate omnibus bill that passed a year ago. Instead, he has said he and other Republicans favor taking on separate immigration issues one at a time, starting with better border security.
Heck also has verbally backed a program President Barack Obama approved in 2012 to allow children of illegal immigrants to legally work and study in the United States if they grew up here. But Heck has also voted against the program, saying he objects to Obama using executive authority to protect the youth from deportation instead of going through Congress to do the same thing by law.
In the 4th Congressional District, the Hispanic group endorsed the freshman incumbent, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., for re-election over his Republican challenger, Assemblyman Cresent Hardy of Mesquite.
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