For the first time, the Nevada caucus will include Tagalog as a language option
With Tagalog now a language option in the upcoming Nevada caucus, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey)’s campaign became the first among the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders to host a Tagalog-specific training event.
As the third state scheduled to vote in the primary stage of the 2020 election, Nevadans are preparing for what may be a historic election.
During a visit to the Silver State, Booker hosted an intimate gathering with members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community on Wednesday, Dec. 18 for a caucus Tagalog training session.
“I believe we are a better country when the diverse people of our country are, not just voting, but actually helping to lead, and that’s what my campaign is going to be about,” Booker told the crowd of about 40 AAPIs, many of whom were carrying signs that read “Mag-Kokus Para-Kay Cory” (Caucus for Cory).
“When I am President of the United States, we will have the most powerful administration for getting things done because we will have the value of diversity and inclusion as a part of my administration,” the senator said, adding that, if elected, he vows to have his administration reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the U.S.
Coinciding with national trends, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in Nevada, according to data from the U.S. Census; more than 220,000 Asian Americans live in Clark County alone, which is triple the amount in 2000.
Across Nevada, AAPI voters comprise 10% (335,000) of the entire state’s electorate, and about half of them (162,000) are Filipino, and as that number is projected to grow, Filipinos are poised to be a powerful voting bloc in elections.
According to Alana Mounce, the executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party, the party has been preparing for the caucus by providing training materials in Tagalog and will be holding a mock caucus with the state’s AAPI community in January.
A champion and outspoken advocate for increased diversity, Booker, along with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), in 2016 went to then-Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to “force every Democratic senator to publish their diversity statistics” as an effort to shed light on the lack of diversity among Senate staffers.
Though Booker remains in the middle of the pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls, the 50-year-old senator has raised the most campaign funds from Asian Americans, according to analysis from AAPI Data released in April. In the first quarter of 2019, Booker raised $394,923 from Asian Americans.
Booker also noted that his campaign is also leading in the number of AAPI staffers.
Regarding the polls, Booker referenced the 2008 polls in which then-candidate Barack Obama performed modestly, saying, “I hear pundits ask, ‘Cory, what about poll numbers?’ I laugh at that because if the polling was predictive we wouldn’t have President Obama.”
Circling back to his campaign’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion, Booker argued that voter turnout skyrocketed after communities of color were included in the political conversation and positions of leadership.
“The last time we had record turnouts in 2008 and 2012 it was because we brought forward the biggest rainbow coalition this nation had ever seen in participation,” he explained. “We swept in one president and got back the Senate with majorities we haven’t seen since.”
Reiterating points he’s made in the race so far, Booker emphasized his belief that the 2020 Democratic campaign should be about “values and virtues” in addition to policy issues, of which immigration, criminal justice reform, taxation and wealth and public education are among Booker’s most important.
Democrats have positioned the 2020 race as the effort to take back the White House, but Booker believes that the emotional and moral pitfalls plaguing the country now go beyond just President Donald Trump.
“I think this is a moral moment in America, I really do. And I think we as a party make a mistake by talking about what we’re against and not what we’re for and who we’re for. If we make this about one guy and one office, it’s not just a referendum on him it’s a referendum on us and who are and who we have to be to each other,” Booker said.
He added, “We win big fights, not by fighting like [how] Donald Trump fights, we’re not going to win this election by picking someone who’s going to out-Trump Trump. We’re going to win when we pick the candidate who inspires us toward activism and engagement on the best of our values.”