Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval won office in 2010 without much support from his fellow Latinos.
But as he seeks to be re-elected next year, and as the state’s Latino population continues to grow, Sandoval is focusing on the voting bloc like never before, according to The Las Vegas Sun. The Republican got a third of the Latino vote.
And the Republican Party is, by extension, looking to the popular politician to gain support for themselves from Hispanics.
“If you look historically, Republicans in Nevada have hovered between the high 20s to 35 percent (with Hispanic voters),” Sandoval’s political consultant, Mike Slanker, said, according to The Las Vegas Sun.
“It’s been a pretty narrow range, and Sandoval has fit right into that. We don’t plan on letting that happen again.”
One third of the Latino vote, Slanker said, is “not good enough now or for the future.”
They are aiming to get at least 50 percent of the Latino votes.
An internal Sandoval campaign poll that sampled 300 Latinos showed that he enjoys a 62 percent favorability rating among Latinos, the newspaper said. Sandoval is already airing online ad campaigns that target Latinos, even though the campaign is more than a year away, the newspaper said.
And that, say campaign officials, is just the beginning of a broader Latino-targeted outreach.
Beyond wooing, Sandoval is also making policy moves long sought by Latinos.
The Las Vegas Sun noted that the governor approved a budget allocating $50 million to programs for English-language learners in public schools. He signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s privilege card, and has expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to a legal status for those here illegally.
But Democrats balk over such efforts to court Latinos, saying it won’t be easy for Sandoval to walk away with a majority of Latino support.
"Considering Nevada continues to rank at the bottom of the country in education and at the top of the country in unemployment, it would be nice if we had a governor who was more interested in strengthening Nevada's middle class than campaigning for re-election,” state Democratic party spokesman Zach Hudson said, according to the newspaper.
“Unfortunately, time and again Brian Sandoval has demonstrated that putting Nevadans back to work and adequately investing in education is not his priority, which is why it isn't surprising he feels the need to start campaigning to defend his abysmal record."