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Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif
Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif

Tony Cárdenas: reshaping the United States, one Latino at a time

The ability of Representative Tony Cárdenas to raise funds could be the engine behind the Latino "boost" in the Democratic race.

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There are three fundamental things to succeed in American politics: a solid project, a charismatic personality, and enough money.

Antonio "Tony" Cárdenas (1963) has a little bit of everything and what he didn’t have he managed to achieve with the effort of someone who knows that nothing in life is free.

After joining political life in the mid-90s, Cárdenas has made his name and skin color a banner for the political reconfiguration of the country.

Son of immigrants and with an education in electrical engineering, he joined the Assembly of the state of California in the ranks of the Democratic Party and was re-elected three times with 80% support.

Afterwards, he arrived at the City Council championing the pro-animalist cause and would take a giant step forward to the House of Representatives with a solid program in immigration, education, juvenile justice, economy, and food.

But it has been his fundraising in the Political Action Committee of the Hispanic Caucus (BOLD PAC) what would make Cárdenas an important figure in the incorporation of Latinos into national politics.

During his campaign to the leadership of the Committee, the Representative promised to triple the organ's coffers. "People laughed. They voted for me anyway and said, ‘you want to try it, do it. Go for it, dude,'" Cardenas told NBC.

In 2016, the result was 6 million dollars raised and the BOLD PAC is now heading toward the goal of 10 million more to help Latino candidates reach Congress.

During that year, six more Latinos joined the House of Representatives thanks to the support of the Committee, including Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina to be elected to a position in the United States Senate.

Today, Cárdenas heads the list of Latinos who aim at the elections of the Democratic Party in 2018, all he needs is the space to achieve it.

“Should Democrats take back the House, I think it’s going to have Tony’s fingerprints all over it,” said Albert Morales, senior political director of the analysis firm Latino Decisions.

And it's not just his ability to raise funds what has taken him so far, Morales says. Cárdenas’ engine is his tireless will to work.

"He’s just a workhorse," Morales said.

While Cárdenas has already played a leading role in the reconfiguration of elections since his time in the Assembly in California - having been the first Latino person to represent the San Fernando Valley District - his goal is not to be first, but "to make sure I’m not the last," he told NBC.

The Latino presence in politics has evolved hand in hand with its population within American society. For example, the California Latino Caucus went from having 12 members in 1996 to 24 in 2002, and that phenomenon is now transferred to the most important Chambers.

Last December, Cárdenas was elected to a new position for members who have served for 5 years or less in the leadership of the Democratic House, “bringing political power to Latinos and the legislative objectives of Latino policymakers,” explains the media.

Both Cárdenas and his colleagues - such as Linda Sánchez, vice chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus - only demand that the party leaders who have been defeated in the last electoral years step aside and allow the new generation of legislators take the helm of the Democrat (and Latino) political future in the years to come.

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