Assemblyman Rocky Chavez
SACRAMENTO – The California Latino Legislative Caucus is one of several ethnic caucuses in the California state legislature. However, according to investigative journalist Steven Greenhut, it is the only one that is closed to Republicans. Greenhut notes in the San Diego Union-Tribune that Republican Rocky Chávez, who was elected in 2012 to the California State Assembly from northern San Diego County, has been excluded from the Latino Caucus.
“I said, ‘Hey, so when do we meet and how does this happen?’”, Chávez said in an interview on Thursday. “They said, ‘You’re not invited.’ I go, ‘Why would I not be invited?’” The obvious reason is that Chávez is a Republican, although he was never given an official explanation.”
Greenhut goes on to note that Chàvez is a moderate on many issues, including immigration, but that was not enough to earn an invite from fellow Latino legislators.
The caucus and its website receive taxpayer funding. It leans left on many issues, but many of its priorities–notably, engaging with business leaders–would seem to require bipartisan cooperation.
Furthermore, Grenhut notes: “The caucus has 24 members, so it’s not as if Chávez’s lone vote would change its political orientation. It wouldn’t change if all GOP Latinos joined in, either.”
“Others have tried but were not admitted,” he adds.
While other legislative bodies also have ethnic or racial caucuses, many of which tend to lean left, most are careful to remain bipartisan in their membership. In 2010, then-U.S. Rep. (now Senator) Tim Scott of South Carolina, a conservative Republican, was invited to join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), but declined. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) decided to join, becoming the CBC’s only Republican member until his defeat in 2012.