In recent weeks, there has been speculation that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will select a Latino to run on the ticket with her. Some of the frequently mentioned names include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, House Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. Given Clinton’s weaknesses, it is unlikely that any one of these Latino politicians would provide the boost that she needs.
Recent polling shows that white men view Hillary Clinton unfavorably. Last month a Washington Post/ABC poll indicated that 75 percent of white men viewed Clinton unfavorably, while only 23 percent viewed her favorably. White men who feel marginalized by trade agreements like NAFTA helped to propel both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forward in the primaries. Castro and Becerra don’t tap into the populist anger that might appeal to the white male demographic.
Tom Perez, who does have progressive credentials having started his career as an aide to the late Senator Edward Kennedy and has support from labor unions, is not well known nationally. The highest office that Perez has been elected to is a suburban county council. Perez, who served as Maryland’s Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, doesn’t bring support from a region that is not traditionally Democratic.
Castro had previously served as the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas before becoming the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Texas is a solidly red state. While Julián Castro and his brother, Joaquin, who is a congressman, are viewed as up and coming Democratic Party leaders, both Castros have declined to run for statewide office in the Lone Star state. If Castro cannot put his own home state in the Democratic column in November, how would he be a value added to Clinton?
Clinton is viewed as a centrist, and Clinton needs to energize the progressive base that turned out for Bernie Sanders. A few months ago, Secretary Castro was criticized for promoting a program that sold delinquent mortgages to Wall Street banks. This program has since been modified because of the pressure from progressive groups. So Castro wouldn’t necessarily fire up a progressive base that is looking for something other than business as usual.
Congressman Xavier Becerra of California has also been mentioned as a possible VP choice for Clinton. Becerra is a member of the House Democratic leadership and has been serving in the House of Representatives for over two decades. His position in the Democratic leadership shows that he’s part of the establishment. This election season has been framed by “anti-establishment” politics to various degrees. A Democratic congressman who is close to traditional Democratic leadership (Nancy Pelosi) doesn’t tap into anti-establishment rage. Additionally, California is solidly Democratic, and Congressman Becerra isn’t well known enough on the national scale to excite progressives and voters who are looking for something different in key swing states.
Latinos Protest Clinton Visit to LA
Putting a Latino male in a position that has historically been awarded to white men probably doesn’t help propel Clinton forward with voters she needs. At this point, Clinton will probably take Latino support for granted because Latino voters will vote against Trump due to his outright racism and anti-immigrant statements. But Latino voters shouldn’t fret – there are key races down the ballot all over the country where their impact can be crucial. And beyond down ballot races, the Vice President has a limited role in governing, so it’s not as if this role would have the policy impact brown folks might be hoping for.