Six years ago, a group of Houston area politically active Latinas had a great idea - create a Latina political organization that would promote Latina candidates and issues. The Latina PAC inaugural event was attended by top Latina/Latino political players. The new organization was written up in the Chron editorial pages. Commentary - before Commentary - signed up as a member to show support.
Sadly, the organization does not exist today. Poof! It has disappeared. No longer a player in local politics. What happened? It fell prey to the endorsement game.
Anyone could join Latina PAC. Latina, Latino, Non-Latina, Non-Latino. All you had to do was pay the membership fee.
Latina PAC got into the endorsement game. Why not? Candidates run for office. Candidates want endorsements. Make candidates come to your screenings. Make candidates answer questions and commit to your issues. Then vote to endorse. The problem arises when overzealous candidate supporters pack the endorsement meeting with brand new members that have never attended the organization's meeting before and are only there to vote to endorse their candidate. It happens all the time. The organization allows itself to be politically hijacked.
That's what happened to Latina PAC. They even endorsed a Latino over a Latina in a local race. The Latina that lost the endorsement was one of the original founders of Latina PAC. Go figure.
It gets weirder. Latina PAC teamed up with the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Political Action Committee (PAC) to do their endorsement screenings. Two organizations with separate missions. Bad idea. Commentary wants to point out that the Chamber does great work in the community and achieves greater political influence when it works on its own.
Latina PAC is no longer on the political landscape in Houston. That's too bad. It should be resurrected.
This time anyone can still join, but only Latinas can vote in the organization's endorsement process. Plus, do more than endorse. Recruit candidates, conduct candidate-training workshops, and hold seminars with guest speakers. Latina PAC can still be a great idea.
April 27, 2005, 9:00AM