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A Major Latino PAC Is Backing An Openly Gay Democrat In A Crowded New York Primary

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s PAC will endorse the 31-year-old on Monday in a 12-person primary for retiring Rep. José Serrano’s seat.

Posted on December 2, 2019, at 12:20 p.m. ET

Brendan McDermid / Reuters

Bronx Council Member Ritchie Torres.

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s politics arm, on Monday, will back New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres in a crowded field of Democrats looking to replace Rep. José Serrano in New York’s 15th Congressional District.

Bold PAC, which works to elect more Latino members of Congress, will provide financial and strategic support to Torres, a frontrunner in a 12-person race to succeed Serrano, who first took office in 1990. All but one of the Democratic candidates has Latino roots, and Torres would be the first openly gay black or Latino member of Congress should he win the 2020 election.

Torres, 31, announced a bid for the seat in July, four months after Serrano declared he wouldn’t seek reelection after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Raised in New York City’s public housing, in a district with one of the nation’s largest Latino communities, Torres became the first openly gay council member of New York City in 2014 and the city’s youngest elected official.

“In a crowded field, Torres has been able to build a strong and diverse coalition of support from labor groups, LGBTQ groups and many of his own colleagues on the city council,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas, chair of BOLD PAC, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “He knows the issues that keep Bronx families up at night — not just from his time as a city council member — but from growing up in the Bronx and being raised by a single mother. He’s proven to be the stand-out Latino candidate in this field and BOLD PAC is proud to put our full support behind his campaign to bring home a victory next November.”

The endorsement comes after two other major PACs backed the Bronx native, both of which support LGBTQ candidates. The Equality PAC endorsed Torres in June, before his official announcement, and the Victory Fund followed shortly after.

The early endorsements gave Torres an edge in fundraising. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Torres has raised $878,084 as of last quarter, outraising his opponents combined by more than $100,000. He’s raised at least $750,000 more than his colleague in city council from a neighboring district, Rubén Diáz Sr. — a popular Pentecostal minister also seeking the nomination for Serrano’s seat, who’s been criticized for his anti-gay remarks.

Torres also faces Assembly Member Michael Blake, Council Member Ydanis Rodríguez, former New York City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Tomas Ramos, among others.

During the 2018 election cycle, Bold PAC raised more than $11 million and donated roughly $400,000 directly to federal candidates. This year, the PAC has endorsed seven other candidates nationwide, including Phil Arballo, Georgette Gómez, and Ammar Campa-Najjar of California; Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico; Candace Valenzuela of Texas; and Oz Vazquez of Florida.

“I am honored to earn the endorsement of BOLD PAC, which has been at the forefront of strengthening Latino representation in Congress,” Torres said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The backing of BOLD PAC is a game-changer in the South Bronx, which is home to one of the highest Latino populations in America.”

If elected, Torres stands to be one of the youngest members of Congress, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 30, whose district abuts the 15th Congressional District Torres is seeking to represent. And while the two represent parts of the Bronx and share Puerto Rican backgrounds, their politics differ. Ocasio-Cortez has sworn off establishment support while Torres accepts union contributions and New York real estate money. Brand New Congress, which helped get the outspoken first-year elected, has backed Torres’ opponent, Tomas Ramos.

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