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Roll Call

Parra Helps Democrats Reach Out to Latino Voters

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Parra has worked with Democrats to expand their exposure on Spanish-language Sunday talk shows.

Jose Parra has led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Latino outreach effort since 2008 and worked on the Nevada Democrat’s re-election campaign in 2010.

Through Parra’s efforts for Reid, other members of the Democratic leadership have appeared on Univision’s “Al Punto” and Telemundo’s “Enfoque,” two highly watched Spanish-language Sunday morning talk shows.

“Many senators are always doing Spanish television because of what Jose has done there,” said Gabriela Domenzain, director of Hispanic Press with Obama for America.

“Jose has changed Senate leadership communications forever,” Domenzain said, noting that he has created a role that will be needed from here on out.

Parra “understands that if you want to change the conversation, you have to engage,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, who hosts the daily “Zona Politica con Helen Aguirre,” a national radio talk show on Univision America.

As part of Reid’s vaunted Latino outreach effort in 2010, Parra helped the majority leader secure 90 percent of the Latino vote in Nevada.

Most recently, Parra, who was a journalist in Miami, worked to help confirm Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador. Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., were holding up the nomination, which was filibustered in 2011.

Aponte is of Puerto Rican descent, so Democrats saw an opportunity to force Rubio’s hand because the Puerto Rican vote along the Interstate 4 corridor is typically a swing area in Florida.

Once Rubio won some unrelated concessions from the Obama administration, he said he would vote for Aponte and help find the seven GOP votes needed to confirm her.

Democrats argued that Rubio changed his position only after getting heat from Puerto Rican constituents. Aponte was ultimately confirmed in June.

Parra also appears on Spanish-language media himself, representing Reid and Democrats. In August, he appeared on a Los Angeles radio show where he said that the source who told Reid that Romney had not paid taxes was a Republican. He later retracted his comment.

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