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Sunday reads for the Democratic convention

Two good Sunday long reads ahead of the Democratic convention in Charlotte:

From Politico's Jonathan Martin: "Ever since his national debut at the 2004 Democratic convention, Barack Obama’s calling card has been that he practices consensus-oriented politics that transcend traditional divisions. But four years after his historic presidential election, the country he sought to bring together is even more divided than when he launched his candidacy. And no place is more polarized than the South."

From National Journal's Beth Reinhard: "North Carolina crystallizes a key question looming over the 2012 election and those to follow: Can Hispanics translate their growing numbers into greater political clout on relatively unfamiliar ground? Although Hispanics’ voting participation lags their population numbers almost everywhere, states with long-standing Latino communities—such as California, Florida, New York, and Texas—boast battle-tested political infrastructures of liberal, minority, and labor groups that sweep Hispanic voters to the polls every Election Day."

RNC puts Hispanic field coordinator on the ground in North Carolina

The Republican National Committee announced Monday it would place a staffer in North Carolina to help coordinate the Hispanic vote ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

"The Hispanic community is the country's fastest growing demographic and will play a pivotal role in helping the country change direction from the failed leadership and policies of Barack Obama," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement following a conference call.

The party named Neri Martinez as the local coordinator, one of six in the states across the country. (Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Virginia and New Mexico are the others.) The national GOP thinks Hispanic voters are a ripe target for their get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in battleground states like North Carolina.

White House hosts Hispanic conference in Durham on Saturday

The White House will hold a Hispanic Community Action Summit at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham on Saturday.

The summit is the latest is the latest in a series of regional meetings that administration officials are holding with the Hispanic community on such issues as the economy, education, health care, and how to fix the nation's broken immigration system.

It is also taking place in a key battleground state. Although the eligible share of Latino voters in North Carolina is only 2.7 percent it could make a difference in a close election, according to the National Council of La Raza.

Among those expected to participate in the day-long event are Jose Rico, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Julie Chavez Rodriquez, associate director, the White House's Office of Public Engagement,  Esther Olavarria, counselor to the secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Judy Canales, administrator, Rural Business and Cooperative Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pat Hoban-Moore, director Office of Field Policy and Management, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Marco Davis, deputy director, White House Initiative o Educational Excellence for Hispanics, Gabriel Sandovala, senior advisor, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics among others.

UPDATE. Alexandra Franceshi, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee said: "It’s no surprise that the White House is hosting Hispanic Community Action Summits to try and win over Hispanics that have been disproportionately hurt by the higher unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices, record debt and out-of-control spending of the Obama Administration. No number of ‘Community Action Summits’ can compensate for the broken promises, empty rhetoric, and failed economic policies of the Obama Administration.”

Latino vote could be important in North Carolina

While North Carolina's Hispanic vote is small, it could play an important role in the 2012 elections because the state is so closely divided, according to a report by a Latino advocacy group.

“North Carolina will exhibit the growing impact of the Hispanic vote,'' said a report by the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. “In 2008, Hispanics in North Carolina voted in numbers greater than the margin of victory, which would point to an increasingly influential electorate in that state.”

The report said there are 181,690 registered Hispanic voters in North Carolina or 2.7 percent of Tar Heel voters. During the 2008 elections, Hispanic voters made up 1.8 percent of the electorate, or more than enough to influence an election in which Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a 14,177 vote margin.

La Raza lists states with large Latino populations where the Hispanic vote can have an impact because of its size: New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Then it lists states with small Latino voting populations but which can have a big political impact because the states are so competitive: Rhode Island, Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Lottery wants to pitch tickets in Spanish

State lottery officials want to start advertising lottery tickets in Spanish.

There's a catch. The 2005 law that created the lottery states, "No advertising may intentionally target specific groups or economic classes."

So that leaves lottery officials trying to figure out how to market to Hispanics without targeting a specific group. Advertising has always been a sensitive issue for the lottery since critics don't want government encouraging people to gamble.

The lottery was created to raise money for education programs and Executive Director Tom Shaheen said there is a large untapped market. Out of 5,900 retailers, lottery officials figure that nearly 200 have a customer base in which at least half don't speak English.

So, Shaheen told lottery commission members Wednesday, he'd like permission to work up Spanish radio and print ads within the law.

"Thanks for throwing us into that briar patch," Commission chairman John McArthur joked.

The ads would not necessarily be translations of the English language ads already running. The lottery's marketing staff would ensure they are culturally relevant.

"I strongly feel it's an opportunity to for us," said Commission member Bridget-Anne Hampden. "It's recognizing the diversity of our state."

The commission told lottery staff to come back with a proposal on how they would propose to legally advertise in Spanish.

Bazan to chair La Raza board

Andrea BazanAndea Bazán has been elected chairwoman of the board of the National Council of La Raza.

A longtime advocate for Hispanic issues in North Carolina, Bazán will now work at a national level in the new position at the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the United States. She succeeds the publisher of the country's largest Spanish-language daily paper.

"Being elected to serve as NCLR's Board Chair is truly a proud moment for me, both personally and professionally," she said in a statement.

Bazan is currently president of the Triangle Community Foundation, a charity in Durham. Previously, she was a co-founder and executive director of El Pueblo, a statewide advocacy and public policy group on Hispanic affairs.

She has master's degrees in social work and public health from UNC-Chapel Hill and has served on the board of La Raza since 2002, most recently as vice chairwoman.

Cisneros: Hispanics part of 'American dream'

Henry Cisneros says that the future of the Democratic Party lies with Latinos.

The former Cabinet secretary said today that the country's growing Hispanic population in the United States will be a vital constituency in the future, but he said that won't change the party's issues much because they are already "part of the American dream."

"There are very few issues where the Latino interest diverges from the traditional American interest," he told Dome. "This is a group that comes here to work, that is traditional in its family values, in its church values."

A supporter of Hillary Clinton, Cisneros was traveling in North Carolina and making appearances on local Spanish-language radio on her behalf. He said that her high level of support among Hispanics is grounded in part on memories of her husband's presidency, in which he served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Still, Clinton won't win too many votes from Hispanics in North Carolina. According to recent figures from the State Board of Elections, there are 41,897 Hispanic voters, or less than 1 percent of the electorate.

But Triangle Community Foundation President Andrea Bazan-Manson, who was traveling with Cisneros, said that number may be undercounted because voters could only check a box noting that they are Hispanic in the last three years.

"All of us that registered 15 years ago didn't have a choice," she said.

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