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Latinos may tip results in contested races across LI, NY, report says

Latinos are a significant part of the electorate in districts on Long Island and elsewhere in New York, and could tip results in contested races, according to a new analysis by the political advocacy group Make the Road Action.

The group’s “Critical Mass” report, which examines the percentages of voters from minority communities by combining registration records with demographic data, finds that 31 percent of registered voters in the state are people of color and 12 percent of that segment are Hispanics. The report will be released Wednesday.

The percentages of Latino voters range from 4 percent to 15 percent in Long Island races for state Senate seats and from 5 percent to 12 percent in congressional districts, some of which include portions of both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“I feel the Latino vote . . . can be a decisive vote, and the difference may come this November in critical Senate races on Long Island in which Latinos are one-tenth of the electorate,” said Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road Action, based in Brooklyn.

Valdés said his group anticipates that many new voters could be energized by “everything that’s been happening with Donald Trump,” the Republican presidential candidate, because of harsh immigration rhetoric “and New York Republicans endorsing ‘Trumpism’ ” in their districts.

While Trump calls for deportations of immigrants who are in the United States illegally, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, generally has espoused immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship for many immigrants who do not have legal status.

A separate analysis issued Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C., found that while Latinos across the nation are expected to reach a record 27.3 million citizens who are eligible to vote in November, the share of registered voters who are “absolutely certain” to cast ballots is smaller than in the presidential election of 2012.

Pew reported that 69 percent of Latinos surveyed nationally are determined to vote, compared with 77 percent in the last presidential race, between President Barack Obama, the Democrat running for re-election, and Republican Mitt Romney.

Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew’s Hispanic research director, said “that’s perhaps a reflection of the amount of investment that has been made to reach out to Latinos” by campaigns and nonprofits, which have been criticized for lackluster efforts this cycle.

The report from Make the Road Action, which breaks down minority and Latino voters by local districts in contention, provides a closer look at the growing Latino constituency.

One race highlighted in the report is the state Senate district in Nassau County held by Republican Kemp Hannon, who faces Democratic challenger Ryan Cronin. Eight percent of district voters are Latinos and 28 percent are minority voters.

Hannon, asked about Trump and the nominee’s stance on immigration, said, “I have from the beginning kept my distance from it, tried not to get involved in it.”

“We are making the economy better and making sure there are jobs for people,” Hannon said, “and hardworking Hispanics are not different than hardworking non-Hispanics.”

Rich Orsillo, a spokesman for Cronin, criticized Hannon by linking him to the GOP presidential candidate.

“Unlike Kemp Hannon, who has supported and embraced Donald Trump’s hateful and divisive politics, Ryan Cronin is concerned about the needs of all voters in the 6th Senate District,” he said, adding, “We’ve met with and continue to work closely with leaders in all the communities.”

The report also points to the congressional seat in Suffolk County held by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and sought by Anna Throne-Holst, a Democrat who was Southampton town supervisor. Six percent of the district’s residents are Latinos.

Jennifer DiSiena, a Zeldin spokeswoman, said he “has all of the momentum, with strong support from Long Islanders of various political affiliations and backgrounds” and will continue working “on key issues ranging from national security to local infrastructure needs.”

Throne-Holst, in a statement, said the Latino community “is making critical contributions to our economy and to our society.” She criticized Zeldin for supporting Trump, “who speaks so disparagingly about different cultures, about women, about the disabled” and “who has insulted war heroes and Gold Star parents.”

Latino voters’ impact in New York State

31 percent: Registered voters who are people of color

12 percent: Portion of Latinos among registered voters who are people of color

Source: Make the Road Action, “Critical Mass” report


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