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Lessons from Nevada: Harry Reid and In-State Ground Game Offer Lessons for Democrats Moving Forward

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Nevada stands out as one of the 2016 successes for Democrats, after serving as the Party’s “Latino firewall” in 2010.  This happened because the state is home to smart and sophisticated Latino voter engagement efforts as well as a staunch Latino and immigrant champion, Harry Reid.

As Democrats plan the way forward, two recent pieces highlight lessons from Nevada: a piece from D Taylor in The Guardian, “Democrats must look to Nevada for hope – and lessons on how to win,” highlighting the importance of a sustained and locally-led Latino-focused ground game; and reflections from Jose Parra, the former communications advisor to retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who outlines the roots and importance of Reid’s engaged relationship with the state’s Latino community in his piece, “Democrats should build on Reid’s Hispanic outreach” in The Hill.

More information on the power of Nevada Latinos is available here

Read an excerpt of D Taylor’s piece in The Guardian below, in which he provides insight into the on-the-ground efforts from local organizations that contributed to the Nevada win for Democrats and the lessons to be taken from the Silver State. Find “Democrats must look to Nevada for hope – and lessons on how to win” in its entirety here.

“There were a few bright spots this week. Members of the Unite Here labor union were critical in keeping the battleground state of Nevada blue and defeating anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.

We won those victories by focusing on the issues that matter to workers – those with a union and those without a union. Reaching out to all working people is the only way to build a big enough base to win. It sounds simple, but requires commitment and a long-term organization.

Organization doesn’t mean a fancy building or a fundraising machine: it means having the capacity to facilitate lots of people talking to lots of other people. Over 80% of what our union spent in this multi-billion-dollar election cycle went to registering and mobilizing voters through face-to-face communication. We knocked on over 350,000 doors and talked to over 75,000 voters. We shared our point of view and took the time to listen to what people wanted to say.


That’s what commitment means. As the nation rights itself the wake of the election, our members are bolstered by the fact they we are committed to win. And we can win. For the next four years we’ll keep investing in working people who are ready to tackle state and local fights and return even stronger. We know what works and we will keep doing it.”

Read an excerpt of  Jose Parra’s piece in The Hill below, in which he commends Harry Reid’s strong connection to the Latino community, and urges Senate Democrats to build on his legacy. Find “Democrats should build on Reid’s Hispanic outreach” in its entirety here. 

“Throughout his tenure as Democratic leader, Reid has defended immigrants publicly and often without press releases. He took the floor countless times without fanfare to block Sessions’ proposals to raise taxes on American children whose undocumented parents had come forward to pay taxes.

Reid encouraged the White House, at times forcibly, to protect Dreamers through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He created Congress’s only staff diversity initiative. Over a decade ago, Reid assembled an extremely effective Hispanic media communications operation.

Was there calculus? Absolutely. But politicians do best electorally when they have empathy with their constituents. Reid’s outreach to minority communities started decades earlier and remained steady. He became pen pals with Dreamer Astrid Silva, and probably made more appearances in Spanish language Sunday shows than their English counterparts.

During Reid’s 2010 victory party, the crowd erupted into “Sí se puede!” chants as he took the stage. Today, Nevada is the one bright Democratic spot where his foresight gave Democrats victories up and down the ballot.

Senate Democrats should build on Reid’s legacy, whether it means talking to Latino media, having diverse staff or taking a stand even when polls say “don’t do it.”

Hispanic voters remember.”