weather icon Clear

Nevada candidates court minority voters ahead of midterm election

Nevada candidates are pulling out all the stops to court minority voters, who could swing the competitive U.S. Senate race next month.

Activist groups including America’s Voice, Mi Familia Vota and For Our Future Nevada have led phone banks and canvassed all year to energize Latino voters. The Latino vote is the Democrats’ most powerful weapon to replace GOP Sen. Dean Heller with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, the only federal candidate to run Spanish-language TV ads.

“Races in Nevada are won by razor-thin margins, and Nevada Democrats are prioritizing outreach to communities of color this year,” said Nevada Democratic Party Executive Director Alana Mounce.

Republicans also have stepped up by hiring a Las Vegas-based director who speaks four languages to build relationships with minority communities. They also said they have hosted hundreds of one-on-one meetings.

“The goal is to identify issues that folks across all backgrounds and communities can coalesce around,” said Keelie Broom, the RNC’s Nevada spokeswoman.

Whether red or blue, political leaders recognize that Asians are a growing voting bloc — and candidates are noticing. In August, top-ticket candidates such as Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Steve Sisolak and congressional candidates Republican Danny Tarkanian, Democrat Susie Lee, Republican Cresent Hardy and Democrat Steven Horsford worked the room at a forum hosted by the Asian Journal Publications.

More than a dozen state and federal candidates pitched themselves at the National Federation of Filipino American Associations’ meet-and-greet last week.

“We’re trying to create a movement to keep people engaged,” said Maggie Tsai, spokeswoman for One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit whose canvassers aim to knock on 25,000 doors by Election Day. “The Asian-American/Pacific Islander vote has been often overlooked. A lot of the older folks are saying this is the first time anyone has asked them about issues like health care, education and immigration.”

But that community isn’t the only one that has felt overlooked.

Despite the fact that black residents make up 9.8 percent of the state population, candidates don’t traditionally prioritize the black vote in Nevada.

Corey Allen, a Democrat and lifelong Nevadan, said he’s voted in every election since he was 18. Yet the 46-year-old truck driver said he hardly sees candidates come to his neighborhood. And if they do show up, Allen said, they disappear after they win the election.

“They need to come to the community and help us with what’s going on. There are problems everywhere: violence, people getting shot,” said Allen, twirling a box of cigarettes between his fingers. “Instead of sending the police here, come down and fix the problems that are causing people to get locked up.”

Rosen is the only candidate to launch an African-American advisory council, a coalition of leaders across the state.

“I will continue to be an active partner with the African-American community in addressing the challenges that face our state, from education and health care to economic inequality and civil rights,” Rosen said.

The Nevada Democratic Party organized a block party in the Historic Westside, a traditionally black community, in addition to hiring Spanish-speaking organizers and a new spokesman to reach Latino, African-American and Asian-American/Pacific Islander media outlets.

Erika Washington, executive director of Make it Work Nevada, a group that organizes women of color around economic, social and reproductive justice issues, said black women play a major role in elections.

Just look at Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, three states where turnout among black women soared and helped drive progressive wins. Black women helped Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams win the Democratic primary and get one step closer to becoming the country’s first black female governor.

Black women could be just as influential in Nevada, Washington said.

“I think we can be the deciding factor in any race if the candidates engage with the community,” Washington said. “But I haven’t seen town halls that specifically talk to black women about economic, racial and social justice issues. I think many black voters feel excluded from the larger conversation.”

Census data from July 2017 show that Latinos make up 29 percent of Nevada’s population, followed by 9.8 black or African-American and 9.6 percent Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. The Voter Participation Center estimated in June that 32 percent of eligible Latinos and 27 percent of African-Americans are not registered to vote. The organization mailed out more than 75,000 voter registration forms.

The stakes couldn’t be higher this year, according to leaders at an Oct. 3 rally organized by progressive groups, including the Culinary Local 226.

“I want to have more representation in Congress,” said Gidget Aranda, an Aria hotel cook and union member since 1995. “The people don’t represent us like they need to. I’m voting because I want my voice to be heard.”

Both Heller and Rosen say they are listening.

Rosen’s deputy campaign manger, Mariela Hernandez, said her campaign is running ads on African-American radio, along with ads targeting Latino and Asian-American/Pacific Island voters.

The Heller campaign launched Juntos con Heller and AAPI for Dean, said spokesman Keith Schipper. The groups include supporters from the Latino and Asian communities.

“With our seven field offices, our campaign is leaving no stone unturned as we head into November so voters know of Dean’s strong record,” Schipper said. “Each and every day, the Heller for Senate campaign is phone-banking, canvassing and speaking to small business owners in communities throughout Nevada,”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Nevada caucus in photos
Best shots from the Review-Journal photo staff's coverage of the Nevada Caucus, Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Bernie Sanders announces his Nevada caucus win to supporters in Texas
At a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Bernie Sanders announces winning the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Joe Biden addresses supporters in Las Vegas
Joe Biden energizes a crowd of supporters at the IBEW Hall in Las Vegas after the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Tweet highlights from the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus
Confusion, flaring tempers and misinformed volunteers highlighted Review-Journal tweets during the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Voters comment on Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
Nevada caucusgoers comment on the process from locations across the Las Vegas Valley, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doolittle Community Center hosts caucuses - VIDEO
The Doolittle Community Center hosted six precincts in one room for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, and voters engaged in debate and discussion about who to lead each precinct, Feb. 22, 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis High School has wait for caucus check-in - VIDEO
James Strange has been waiting in line to caucus for the first time for 45 minutes and some said they have been waiting for an hour at Desert Oasis High School for the Nevada Democratic caucuses. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Conservative guru encourages Republicans to vote in Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Republican activist Chuck Muth encourages his fellow GOP members to change party affiliation for a day to elect Bernie Sanders. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee at Desert Oasis High School - VIDEO
Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., stopped by the Nevada Democratic caucus at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day in Summerlin - VIDEO
Out-of-state caucus observer Ken Valz speaks about the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Palo Verde High School, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doors open for Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Caucusgoers are lining up Saturday morning to take part in the Nevada Democratic caucuses across the state (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day at East Last Vegas Community Center - VIDEO
Registration begins at the East Las Vegas Community Center for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It’s caucus day in Nevada - VIDEO
Democrats will gather at over 250 locations across the state to declare their presidential preferences in the Nevada caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High - VIDEO
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High in Henderson, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren holds rally with Julian Castro
Elizabeth Warren held her Get Out the Caucus Block Party with Secretary Julián Castro at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater.
Trump caps western swing with campaign rally in Las Vegas
President Trump speaks to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center during a tour across the western United States.
Anti-Trump Protestors at LVCC Rally - Video
President Trump speaks at a Keep America Great rally as a small group of protesters gather outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, where President Trump will held a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
President Trump lands in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as part of a four-day western state swing. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Long lines during early voting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The final day of the Nevada Democratic Party’s early presidential caucuses wrapped up Tuesday, as thousands of Democrats lined up at 55 locations around the state for their last shot at filing an early preference card before the traditional caucuses on Saturday. Long lines were seen at CSN Charleston in Las Vegas. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Last day for early voting at Culinary Union - VIDEO
Voters were still in line just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as early voting in the Nevada Democratic Party caucuses came to a close. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pigeons wearing MAGA hats in Las Vegas - VIDEO
A flock of pigeons wearing Make America Great Again hats and one sporting a Donald Trump hairdo invaded downtown Las Vegas late Tuesday, following their release by an anonymous group: P.U.T.I.N. (Pigeons, United to Interfere Now). (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tuesday is last day to early vote in Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses ends Tuesday, with sites open throughout Clark County. (Michael Quine and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk pay for child care workers - Video
Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk to care in action about the importance of Medicare for All, paid leave and child care. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elizabeth Warren barnstorms Nevada ahead of caucuses - VIDEO
Warren is trying to drum up enthusiasm about her campaign after finishing fourth in the New Hampshire primary. Her rally drew about 400 people to the student union of the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Jacky Rosen encourages early voting at Culinary Workers 226 - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., spoke to those casting early caucus votes at the Culinary Workers hall on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses continues Tuesday. The Nevada Caucuses are Saturday, Feb. 22. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2020 candidates rally in Southern Nevada ahead of caucus - VIDEO
2020 candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders held rallies all over Southern Nevada on Saturday ahead of the Democratic caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First day of early voting - VIDEO
Nevada Democrats turned out in force on Saturday for the first day of early voting in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Biden and Sully Sullenberger speak in Henderson - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden and famed pilot Sully Sullenberger spoke at Sun City MacDonald Ranch to get out the vote for early voting for the Nevada caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Democratic presidential candidates - VIDEO
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the presidential field by a solid margin among likely Democratic caucus-goers heading into Nevada’s four-day early voting period, with with 25 percent of respondents expressing support. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: caucus vs. primary - VIDEO
A new Nevada Poll finds two-thirds of likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed in a Review-Journal poll say they’d like to see Nevada replace its caucuses with a secret-ballot primary election to determine support for a presidential nominee. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus events Leading up to Caucus Day 2020 - VIDEOl
As presidential candidates make their way to Las Vegas, here's a look at events, dates and times for the days leading up to Nevada's Caucus Day 2020 on Feb. 22. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Nevada’s caucuses see big turnout

More than 105,000 people participated in the Nevada Democratic Party’s presidential caucuses, with most turning out during early voting. It was the second-highest turnout since the state moved to an early spot on the nominating calendar in 2008.