Colorado Republicans reach out to Latino voters, including new 8th District

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If Cliff Aragon’s take on politics reflects what other Latinos in Colorado are thinking as the mid-term election looms just over four months away, it could be an early and unwelcome warning sign for Democrats.

“He’s doing a horrible job,” the unaffiliated voter in Adams County’s Sherrelwood neighborhood, just south of West 84th Avenue, said of President Joe Biden.

Aragon was on a list of homes being targeted Tuesday evening by a team of GOP volunteers, wearing matching red T-shirts, who believe that face-to-face engagement with a segment of the population historically aligned with Democrats is a crucial campaign strategy.

“You’re seeing a lot of heavily dissatisfied Hispanic voters,” said Helder Toste, field and coalition director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, as he rounded up a small group of volunteers behind a Dutch Bros coffee shop near Interstate 25. “They’re worried about crime and kitchen table issues.”

The conversations in Adams County on Tuesday centered on a concern that is universal these days: inflation, especially the price at the pump. Biden, said Damon Rodriguez, who has lived on Louise Drive for the last 2 1/2 years, “could be doing better.”

Maria Guzman-Weese, a volunteer door-knocker for Colorado Republicans, said Latinos are as impacted as anyone in the current economy — and that opens a real opportunity to get them into the GOP fold.

“We have the same concerns — it’s pocketbook issues like the economy and our children’s education,” Guzman-Weese said.

Tuesday’s canvassing represents what GOP leaders say is a new focus on Hispanic Colorado voters.

“We’ve gotten a lot better at saying, ‘We need to elevate minority voices,’” said Toste, who broke out into fluent Spanish at several homes where there were no English speakers, handing out a flyer and urging residents to vote.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Helder Toste, field and coalition director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, right, talks to homeowner Cliff Aragon, with his dog Julia, in Thornton on June 21, 2022. With Helder is Kristi Burton Brown, chairwoman of the Colorado Republican Committee, and her two children Areyna , 11, left, and Ryker, 8. Helder and Burton Brown were joined by other volunteers with the National Republican Senatorial Committee to go door-to-door in neighborhoods in unincorporated Adams County near Thornton as part of an Hispanic voter outreach in the new CD8.

Operación Vamos

The National Republican Senatorial Committee picked Colorado as one of a handful of states for what it dubbed Operación Vamos — an effort to make deeper inroads with Hispanic residents styled after success the party saw in Texas. The others are Nevada, Washington, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Party officials said it is spending seven-figures on the effort, though they didn’t break it down by state.

“Reaching out to those Hispanic voters early in the cycle, not just when we’re asking for their vote, but when we can actually have real conversations about issues and what matters to them has really been effective across the nation,” Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said.

The party plans that outreach as a two-pronged effort: Ongoing door-knocking campaigns, like this week’s, and opening community centers in Hispanic neighborhoods after the dust settles from the June 28 primary election, she said.

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