Hispanic Leadership Fund Launches Ad Highlighting Rosen's Opposition to Tax Cuts

Latino voters may hold the key to Nevada's Senate race

Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen | Getty
November 1, 2018

The Hispanic Leadership Fund, a national nonpartisan Latino advocacy group, is launching a last-minute ad in Nevada highlighting Democratic congresswoman Jacky Rosen's vote against "tax cuts for the middle class." Rosen is vying to unseat incumbent Republican senator Dean Heller this November.

HLF announced on Tuesday that it would be making an extensive media buy throughout the Silver State taking Rosen to task for her position on taxes. The ad, which HLF expects to reach over 1 million voters, comes as Rosen and Heller are locked in a fierce battle that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Recent polling has shown Heller consistently leading Rosen, but most political observers believe the race will be tight.

"Nevadans work hard and we need to spend our hard earned income on important priorities, not on paying more taxes," the ad's narrator states. "So, why did Jacky Rosen vote against tax cuts for the middle class? Why doesn't she realize lower taxes means more money for us to care for our families?"

The ad ends by imploring voters to call Jacky Rosen and "ask her to stop supporting higher taxes so Nevada families can get ahead."

Rosen, who was first elected to the House in 2016, voted against the Republican tax cuts last year, arguing they were both "reckless" and a "disaster" for the country. The Democrat's position on tax cuts was in line with the majority of her party, which has continued to deny the benefits despite record bonuses, climbing wages, and a positive economic outlook.

In a statement obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, HLF's president, Mario Lopez, said his group was engaging in the race because Nevada voters "deserve to know who is standing in the way" of expanded economic opportunities for working-class and middle-class families.

"By voting against tax breaks for working [and] middle-class families in Nevada, Jacky Rosen has demonstrated that she does not understand how jobs are created and how anxious Nevada Latinos and all families are for real economic opportunity," Lopez said.

The Rosen campaign did not return requests for comment.

HLF's activity in the races underscores how important a role the Hispanic community plays in the elections of this quickly diversifying state. Nevada has the 14th largest Latino population in the country with Hispanics making up nearly 30 percent of the state's total population. In 2010, Latino votes in Nevada handily saved the political career of then-Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who was facing a strong challenge in that year's Tea Party wave.

A similar pattern emerged in the 2016 race to succeed Reid. During that campaign, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto won a narrow victory over her Republican opponent by running strongly among Hispanic voters in heavily urban Clark County. Cortez Masto's margin of victory in Clark County was sufficient enough to ensure she became the first Latina to represent Nevada in the Senate, despite losing 15 out of the state's 16 counties.

In a recent interview with the Free Beacon, Sen. Heller signaled that he understood the needs of Nevada's Hispanic community and wasn't taking their votes for granted—the senator's campaign has worked to establish extensive relationships within the community.

Those efforts bore fruit in May when Heller's campaign unveiled a coalition of 254 Hispanic activists committed to his reelection. The coalition—officially called Juntos con Heller—is exponentially larger than the support Heller received from the community during his initial 2012 campaign. Since its formation, the coalition's numbers have grown and is now over 400 members strong. Juntos con Heller is the largest Hispanic coalition ever formed to back a candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada, even larger than the group formed to bolster Cortez Masto two years prior.

Apart from activists, the coalition has been able to tap into the traditionally more conservative elements of the Latino community. Juntos con Heller has received the endorsement of the president of Nevada's Latin Chamber of Commerce and over 200 Latino-owned businesses from every corner of the state.

While garnering less individual support, Rosen has received the backing of the powerful Culinary Workers Union, which represents over 57,000 hospitality workers across Nevada. The union is acknowledged to be both the largest labor organization and the biggest immigrant group, with members from 173 different countries, operating in Nevada.

Notwithstanding Rosen's support from the union, a recent poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena Research found that Heller was holding his own among Latinos. The poll indicated that 40 percent of Nevada's registered Hispanic voters planned to cast their ballots for the incumbent compared with only 52 percent who intended to vote for Rosen. Furthermore, the poll showed that only 45 percent of registered Latinos planned to vote, well below the level of turnout that pushed Cortez Masto over the top in 2016.

Heller credits his support within the Hispanic community to his focus on alleviating the economic concerns of hardworking Nevadans.

"We're talking to the community. The president of the Latin chamber is on my side," Heller said. "It's obvious why they're doing it—it's because they all have jobs, that's what people want, they want jobs." 

HLF's ad is seeking to drive that point home in the week leading up to Election Day, according to Lopez.

"Latino voters deserve to know who is implanting policies that help our communities grow economically and which candidate provides more opportunities for families to achieve the American Dream," the group's president said.