LatinaLista - While both presidential campaigns say they want the Latino vote, it's been obvious for sometime that its Latinos in certain states whose votes will make or break the race to the Oval Office, and those are the ones the candidates want.
The Obama campaign has set aside $20 million to reach out to Latinos specifically in Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. It's a safe bet that the McCain campaign is focusing on those Latino populations that are significant to the election's outcome as well.
To get up to speed at just what the numbers are for the Latino electorate, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, along with, the Hispanic News and Information company impreMedia created a nifty guide entitled 2008 Latino Political Handbook.
Yet, even this handbook only focuses on the states with major Latino electorates. But while there are states that have historically been home to large Latino communities, Latinos have made homes in most of the 50 states.
You wouldn't know it though because their voices don't get heard as often or as loudly, but some Latinos are learning to fight back and they're taking a play out of the 2008 campaign playbook to figure out how to do it.
Political Action Committees or PACs have long been the tools of people savvy with how politics works. Raise the money to finance the campaigns of candidates who think like you and sit back and watch them win and carry those shared ideals into political office.
Since the start of this presidential election, PACs, for every kind of issue or ideology, have sprung up quickly.
Finally, the time has arrived that the "common Latino" has learned how to play the poltical game of PAC too.
This point was brought home to me in a casual email exchange with a friend of mine who was retired. He has substantial savings and instead of saying he was going to retire to a beach somewhere with his wife, he announced he had plans to start his own PAC that would create candidates not just sympathetic to his views but more Latino candidates as well.
It's not a new idea. The need for more Latino candidates to run for public office is being noticed more and more â€” not by the people in Washington or even the leaders of national Latino advocacy groups â€” but by everyday people who are tired of casting a vote for the same old faces who don't share their ideals, their life experiences or their aspirations.
My friend's declaration is indicative of what is happening across the country.
In Austin at the Netroots Nation conference, I met New Mexico's candidate for Congress, Ben R. LujÃ¡n. While politics has been a part of his life from the time he was a child and now as an adult, he sees the need for more Latinos running for office.
In discussing his plan to help other Latino candidates run for office, he told a group of us Latino bloggers at the convention that he was the first Latino candidate to run for public office in New Mexico since Bill Richardson.
Another candidate that we met in Austin, Florida's Annette Taddeo, a Latina of Colombian descent, alerted me to the fact that she's the only Latina running for Congress in the nation.
With the numbers of Latinos rising, it doesn't make sense anymore that more Latinos are not running for public office. The obvious reason is they need help â€” financial help.
A new Latino advocacy group wants to change the status quo for their state's Latinos and is doing it by forming the Latino Americans Political Action Committee of Nebraska.
The group is comprised of nothing more than Latino business people who are tired of being ignored and realize that it is only with a collective voice and money in the pockets that changes will be made at the political level.
There is no longer an expectation that a national organization can adequately represent the needs of Latinos everywhere anymore.
If this election's success will be measured by the change it instills in Washington politics, then it's already on its way to success if more people have learned that the way to change politics is from the inside out â€” and with candidates who'll personalize their message to Washington.