Liberal Billionaires, Including George Soros, Launch $15 Million Campaign to Get Latinos and Other Immigrants Out to Vote

Voters during Nevada’s Democratic caucus last month in Las Vegas. (NYT)
Voters during Nevada’s Democratic caucus last month in Las Vegas. (NYT)

The billionaire George Soros and other liberal donors will bankroll a new $15 million campaign to mobilize Latinos and other immigrants this fall, hoping to channel outrage at the political rhetoric of Donald J. Trump and other Republicans into a surge of votes for Democratic candidates in November.

Strategists involved said the new spending would be the largest Democratic voter-turnout effort ever devoted exclusively to Latino and immigrant voters. Most of the money will be spent through organizations in Colorado, Florida and Nevada, states with large or growing Latino and Asian populations that will be pivotal in the presidential race and in the battle for control of the Senate.

The outreach, which will be coordinated through a new “super PAC” called Immigrant Voters Win PAC, will be more explicitly political and partisan than past efforts, the strategists said: The goal was to not only turn out committed Latinos already voting Democratic but also find and persuade immigrant swing voters. Ultimately, organizers hope to get at least 400,000 new Democratic voters to the polls in November.

“This is really taking the gloves off,” said Cristóbal Alex, the president of the Latino Victory Project, one of several national pro-immigration or Hispanic-oriented groups working with the super PAC. “From the first day he attacked us, he called us rapists and thieves,” Mr. Alex said of Mr. Trump. “We could have a giant wall built and millions of families broken apart. The country is on the precipice.”

The effort comes amid signs of a Democratic enthusiasm gap that has worried some of the party’s leading strategists. While Republican voters are turning out in droves, often to vote for Mr. Trump, millions of Democratic voters have sat out the party’s primary between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Democrats are confronting lingering dismay among some Latinos regarding President Obama, who has not delivered a promised immigration overhaul and has deported more than two million people. At the same time, conservatives are already investing heavily to woo and turn out right-leaning Hispanic voters: A group called the Libre Initiative, financed by the Koch brothers’ political network, is expected to spend more than $10 million through November and already has dozens of field organizers in nine states.

Both campaigns are unfolding against a demographic surge that is reordering American presidential politics, providing millions of new voters for Democrats while stirring an angry counterreaction on the right, where working-class white voters have rallied to Mr. Trump’s promises to end illegal immigration, to build an enormous wall along the Mexican border, and to expel undocumented workers who are already here.

For Mr. Soros, who will contribute $5 million to the super PAC, the effort represents a return to the large-scale political spending that made him a liberal hero — and conservative boogeyman — in 2004, when he helped organize a failed $200 million advertising and voter-mobilization campaign to unseat President George W. Bush. His contributions to super PACs and other explicitly political organizations this cycle will soon exceed $13 million, his largest investment since the 2004 election. Mr. Soros has committed another $5 million to a Democratic-led legal campaign to contest restrictive voting laws in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

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The New York Times