NHI to Congress update: Levario continues to general election, Rodriguez finishes fifth in primary
This past Tuesday, two of the three National Hispanic Institute alumni running for United States Congress seats—Dallas’s George Rodriguez and Lubbock’s Miguel Levario—got to the primary elections determining their futures in the race.
George Rodriguez, running in the highly competitive 32nd District in Texas, finished fifth in a crowded Democratic primary field, winning nearly eight percent of the vote—but did so with a campaign that sought to incorporate disenfranchised voters and first-time voters into the arena.
“Tuesday night wasn’t as devastating as you think it might be,” Rodriguez said. “I was surrounded by lots of people who supported me, and we felt that it was a good campaign that attracted a lot of volunteers. I felt like we elevated the discussion and were friendly to both Democratic and Republican voters, which reflected who I am and what kind of campaign it was.”
Rodriguez saw himself as providing a contrast between the “Democratic machine” and a more grassroots style of campaign. “I got into this race because I was tired of corporate, plastic politicians. I don’t regret the approach we took. We wanted the voters to have to make up their mind about what kind of candidate they wanted to beat Pete [Sessions, the Republican incumbent]. In the end, two former Obama Administration officials—Colin Allred, backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Lillian Salerno, backed by EMILY’s List—advanced to the May runoff in the Dallas-area district, seen as one of three Texas Congressional districts that could move from the Republican to the Democratic column in November.
Levario, meanwhile, ran unopposed in the more rural 19th District of Texas, and will face incumbent Jodey Arrington in November. He’s encouraged that Democratic turnout throughout the district—including in the more rural sections of the district.
“We’ve proved we won’t be left out,” Levario said. “We’ve built a strong following so far.”
Levario is discussing issues important to the voters in the district, which include the cities of Lubbock and Abilene. Levario notes that Taylor County, which includes Abilene, saw Democratic participation in the 2018 primaries jump 106 percent over 2014 totals, whereas Republican participation over the same span of time actually dropped 32 percent.
Issues concerning the district’s voters include jobs and health care issues; since Lubbock is a medical hub for the entire region, the two issues are especially intertwined.
“The public speaking skills I’ve learned in NHI have been important to my campaigning,” Levario noted. “I think back to YLC when I have to talk about issues and formulate arguments, and I think back to LDZ when I get myself out there to talk to people and campaign.”
The other NHI member running for Congress, NHI Person of the Year Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a candidate in New York, which holds its statewide primaries on June 26.