A number of names are being tossed around to fill the seat of Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California as the Latina lawmaker decides to run for the Senate spot being vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer.
On top that list is Democrat Lou Correa, a former state senator and assemblyman who is considered a strong voice for the Latino community in California's Orange County. Correa, however, has not openly said that he is planning to run for the Sanchez's post if she moves to the Senate.
"I'd look at it very carefully," Correa told the Orange County Register. "A lot of people have encouraged me to run if it opens up." That sounded a lot like, "I'm preparing very carefully for that possibility."
Another Latino who has been talked about as a possible heir to Sanchez's post is former democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio, who is currently a member of the Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustees. Like his Democratic counterpart Correa, Solorio said that he will make the decision whether or not to run when Sanchez decides if she will go after the empty Senate seat.
"There's no vacancy right now," he said. "Right now, I'm primarily focused on working locally with the college district and building my public affairs practice."
Both Latino politicians lost recent bids for elected office – Correa to Republican Andrew Do in his bid to return to country Board of Supervisors and Solorio in his State Senate bid to Republican Janet Nguyen – as their constituencies become more ethnically diverse thanks in part to the infusion of many Vietnamese families in the traditionally Latino stronghold.
Still, observers say that it would be a longshot for Do to win the congressional seat. Democrats hold a 19-percent advantage over Republicans and Latinos hold a 28-point advantage over Asians in Congressional District 46, and many say that those numbers are insurmountable.
"It would be difficult for any Vietnamese candidate or any Republican candidate to win a seat – even an open seat – given the lopsided Democratic and Latino demographics," said Republican former Assemblyman Van Tran. "Frankly, even if Ronald Reagan runs for the current Sanchez seat as it is drawn today, he would lose."
While Sanchez hasn't official announced her run for Boxer's Senate post, she has made several statements saying there is a need for a Latino leader to represent California.
"I believe a Latino candidate will energize the community in ways that other candidates cannot," Sanchez told Fox News Latino earlier this year. "Latinos are at the forefront of these discussions and they want a candidate that can relate to their families."
In a state where 40 percent of the population is Hispanic, Sanchez and three other Latino leaders are counting on their ethnic roots to help energize a voting block that could prove decisive.