Democrats Pin Hopes on Amanda Renteria

Democrat Amanda Renteria is challenging incumbent Republican David Valadao for the right to represent California's 21st Congressional District. Democrats are hoping her victory will be a bright spot in what is shaping up to be a tough year.

Valadao, who is the son of Portuguese immigrants, grew up in Hanford and went to college in nearby Visalia. He currently is the manager of a large dairy operation which he co-owns with his brothers. He is one of the few Republicans in Congress who support immigration reform and opposed cuts to the food stamp program.

His challenger Amanda Renteria is also a daughter of immigrants. Her parents were fruit pickers in the Central Valley but went to Stanford and then got a graduate degree from Harvard Business School. After school, Renteria worked for Sen. Feinstein and then for Sen. Stabenow, making her the first Latina chief of staff for a U.S. Senator. Renteria describes herself as a moderate. She told the Bakersfield Californian last year, "My dad’s first political rally was a Reagan rally."

A New York Times profile of Renteria focused heavily on Democrats hoping she'll be a bright spot in an otherwise tough year. The Times notes that there were over 6,000 Hispanics in mostly low-level elected office last year. About 90 percent of those were Democrats. But when it comes to higher offices, "just eight Latinos hold statewide office; five, including the governors, are Republican."

Former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros told the Times, "Because many young Latinos will say, ‘I want to advance in politics, it looks like the Republicans offer a route.'" Bill Richardson, the former Democratic Governor of New Mexico told the Times Democrats have not been "as aggressive as Republicans" in courting Hispanic candidates.

McClatchy recently reported that Valadao had raised $322,000 since January while Renteria had raised $303,000. The difference is that most of Renteria's money came from outside the state. In fact the GOP claimed that less than 1 percent of her itemized support had come from the 21st district.

Photo: Renteria campaign


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