Democratic candidate for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe talks with Latino voters. Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver has the story.
Virginia's Latino community is finding a growing voice in the race for governor. On Monday, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe launched a Latino coalition - Latinos Con Terry - in support of his campaign.
McAuliffe held the kick-off at Todos Supermarket in Woodbridge, where storeowner Carlos Castro showed McAuliffe around his shop. He explained to the candidate his concern that Latinos are being given a bad image.
"I wouldn't want to say I want special treatment for a particular group, whether we're Latino or from other minorities, I think what we want is... fair treatment and a fair opportunity," Castro said.
In the 2009 election, Castro voted for Republican Bob McDonnell, but this time he's leaning toward McAuliffe, he said. If elected, McAuliffe promised Castro to simplify the workflow for those trying to opening small businesses.
"For a small business, someone like Carlos... there [should be] one place in state government where we provide the answers to them," McAuliffe said.
But many Hispanic voters are still undecided. During his tour of the supermarket, a Latino man walked up to McAuliffe and spoke his mind on, perhaps, issue No. 1 for Hispanics: Immigration.
"If I was the governor for a day, what would I do? I think I would definitely look into the immigration system right now," he told McAuliffe.
The Latino vote has becoming increasingly important in national elections, but it dips in statewide races that follow, according to statics provided by the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.
They show in Virginia, 5 percent of voters in 2008 and 2012 were Latinos. They overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama. In the 2009 race for governor, only 3 percent of voters were Hispanic.
Given the trend, analysts suggest McAuliffe will do better with a higher Latino voter turnout, but that could prove difficult.
News4 also reached out to Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's campaign. They were unable to provide someone from their Hispanic coalition, but they released the following statement:
"Unlike Terry McAuliffe, Ken Cuccinelli has spent his entire life putting Virginians - not politics - first. In his campaign for Governor, Ken is squarely focused on the issues that all Virginians are most concerned about: creating jobs and growing the economy. By putting forward a positive, issues-based campaign, Ken has gained strong grassroots support from every corner of the Commonwealth."
Meantime, for many Latinos there are other important issues aside from immigration that they hope the next governor will deal with, like transportation, a concern to which northern Virginians from all backgrounds can relate.