SONORA — Young Democrats in this sweeping West Texas district are upset about U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez’s vote for President Barack Obama’s health care reform. And even though it could cost him his job, the Democrat makes no apologies.
“I’m willing to pay the price because it was the right thing to do,” Rodriguez said.
Young, mostly Latino Democrats, who make up 87 percent of the voting age population in the county, are exactly the group that could determine whether Rodriguez, a Democrat himself, returns for another term in Congress.
His Republican opponent, Francisco Canseco, is capitalizing on that anti-government frustration, and Rodriguez is struggling to keep even the Hispanic vote that many thought would be his stronghold. National pundits are calling the fight to represent the 20-county district that stretches from El Paso to San Antonio and down to the U.S.-Mexico border a tossup.
District voters supported Obama over Sen. John McCain in 2008 by a margin of 2.7 percentage points. That same year, Rodriguez beat his Republican opponent by almost 14 percentage points, in the district where 61 percent of the voting age population is Hispanic.
Canseco’s campaign did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking an interview. But his “last name doesn’t hurt him,” said Ben Taylor, publisher of the weekly Devil’s River News. “For some of the died-in-the-wool Democrats that vote Democratic that are Hispanic, he has a combination of the two that they can relate to. If they vote along cultural lines, Canseco has the answer on that end, too.”