Can­di­dates vie for unions, Lati­nos in Ne­vada

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front - By MICHELLE L. PRICE

LAS VE­GAS — Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates de­scended on Ne­vada on Satur­day in an at­tempt to build re­la­tion­ships with Latino vot­ers and win the cov­eted en­dorse­ment of the pow­er­ful casino work­ers’ Culinary Union.

Amy Klobuchar and Pete But­tigieg, both run­ning as Mid­west­ern mod­er­ates who’ve warned against lib­eral plans to move the U.S. to a govern­ment-run health insurance sys­tem, pitched them­selves Satur­day morn­ing to Culinary Union work­ers, who prize their ro­bust health plans.

Klobuchar, a Min­nesota sen­a­tor, said the “Medi­care for All” pro­pos­als like those put out by Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders and Mas­sachusetts Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren “might sound re­ally good on a bumper sticker” but would cause mil­lions of Amer­i­cans to lose their cur­rent health insurance, in­clud­ing the plans the casino work­ers bar­gained hard for.

“All of that work, I don’t want it to go down the drain,” Klobuchar said dur­ing her ap­pear­ance at the work­ers’ union hall just off the Las Ve­gas Strip.

But­tigieg, who took the stage af­ter Klobuchar left, made a sim­i­lar point as he pushed his plan to of­fer govern­ment-run Medi­care insurance to those who want it.

“I be­lieve that if it’s the best an­swer for every­body, well, then every­body will choose it any­way,” said the for­mer mayor of South Bend, In­di­ana.

Vis­its from Klobuchar, But­tigieg and for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den came a lit­tle more than a month be­fore early cau­cus vot­ing starts in Ne­vada, the third state to weigh in on the pri­mary race.

Bi­den has main­tained a

top spot in Ne­vada polls. In the most re­cent poll of the state, re­leased Thurs­day by Fox News, he has a slight lead over Bernie San­ders, fol­lowed by El­iz­a­beth War­ren and Tom Steyer, with But­tigieg trail­ing slightly. Klobuchar, who has only re­cently ramped up her cam­paign in

Ne­vada, has been polling in low sin­gle dig­its.

Bi­den held a town hall­style meet­ing at a high school in north Las Ve­gas with Latino and im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy group Mi Fa­milia Vota.

Ne­vada, con­sid­ered the first state to test a can­di­date’s ap­peal be­fore a di­verse pop­u­la­tion, is a mi­nor­ity-ma­jor­ity state that’s about 29% Latino. His­panic vot­ers are a key con­stituency for Democrats in the state, along with la­bor unions.

Bi­den spoke to an au­di­ence of about 200, mostly peo­ple of color, packed into chairs and on stair­ways to lis­ten. The for­mer vice pres­i­dent said he has no His­panic her­itage but that he un­der­stands what it’s like to be a sec­ond-class cit­i­zen, grow­ing up Ir­ish Catholic in his Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, neigh­bor­hood.

“We were con­sid­ered sort of the bot­tom of the rung,” he said.

Mi Fa­milia Vota leader Héc­tor Sánchez Barba asked Bi­den if he’d com­mit to hav­ing four Lati­nos in his Cabi­net. Bi­den wouldn’t com­mit to any spe­cific num­ber but said he would have a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Lati­nos” in his Cabi­net, along with Lati­nos serv­ing as core mem­bers of his se­nior White House team.

“Lati­nos make up 25% of ev­ery sin­gle soli­tary per­son in school in Amer­ica to­day. The idea that we are not go­ing to have over­whelm­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Lati­nos in my Cabi­net says we’re not go­ing to move for­ward as a coun­try,” he said. “You are the fu­ture.”

The big­gest im­mi­grant or­ga­ni­za­tion in Ne­vada is the Culinary Union, 60,000 strong, mostly women and mostly Lati­nos, and one of the most im­por­tant en­dorse­ments in Ne­vada Demo­cratic pol­i­tics.

The Culinary Union’s lead­ers have not yet said if they will en­dorse in the pri­mary. The union’s par­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion, Unite Here, will de­cide at the end of the month whether to en­dorse. If it doesn’t, Culinary may en­dorse on its own, ac­cord­ing to Culinary spokes­woman Bethany Khan.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date South Bend Mayor Pete But­tigieg speaks Satur­day at a culinary work­ers union hall in Las Ve­gas.

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