A Latino political organization founded by two heavyweight Democratic Party supporters on Tuesday held its first fundraiser for a Republican candidate – citing the politician’s values, not his party, as the reason for the support.
The political action committee for the Latino Victory Project, a group established by Democratic Party finance chair Henry Muñoz and Hollywood actress Eva Longoria, held a fundraiser for Raul "Danny" Vargas, a GOP candidate who is vying for a spot in the Virginia House of Delegates.
"We look at a candidate's values, their access to opportunities, their stance on education, on immigration reform and support of democratic institutions," Cristóbal Alex, the president of the Latino Victory Project told Fox News Latino. "Danny reflects these values, and he has a compelling story that reflects the American Dream."
Vargas said he’s thrilled to be the first Republican backed by the Latino Victory Project.
He described himself as “a commonsense Republican” who is “fiscally conservative and socially inclusive.”
“Government should be partner, not a patron,” he told Fox News Latino
Vargas was born to Puerto Rican parents in New York City and grew up in a poor neighborhood of Brooklyn before joining the Air Force in the early 1980s. After his time in the military, Vargas worked for Sprint. In 2004, he began his own business, VARCom Solutions, which provides marketing, communications and public relations services to a number of government agencies, non-profit organizations and political campaigns.
The Virginia businessman has also been very involved in Latino politics for some time.
He held the post of national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly from 2007 to 2009, and was appointed in 2009 by Congress to serve on a bipartisan commission to study the creation of an American Latino Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.
When tensions rose over undocumented immigrants in places such as Hazleton, Pa. and in Virginia towns such as Herndon, where he set up his business, Vargas joined activists who met with community leaders and lawmakers to try to develop compromises that would help both the immigrants and the larger community.
The tensions became “an almost dangerous situation,” he said.
Vargas supports comprehensive immigration reform that would allow certain undocumented immigrants a way to legalize their status.
“I tried convincing [lawmakers] to move forward with immigration reform, so we could get past the limbo we all were in,” he told FNL.
This campaign, however, is Vargas' first shot at elected office, and he told the crowd gathered at the fundraiser that he was concerned with issues that affect both sides of the political divide.
The fundraiser for Vargas is a departure for the Latino Victory Project, which in the past has endorsed only Democratic candidates. Its president said, however, that they are a non-partisan group and that they have always selected candidates by their stance on key issues and not their political affiliation.
"[Vargas] is one of the few people who comes from the Republican side who is very open to reaching across the aisle and working with the other side," Alex told FNL. "All candidates can look at someone like this as a way to appeal to Latino voters."
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.