State Del. Carlo Sanchez (D) is about to make it official: He’ll run for the District 47 state Senate seat in Prince George’s County next year.
Sanchez is putting out the word in an email to supporters Thursday morning, and he also plans to say something publicly at the District 47 Democratic picnic Saturday in Brentwood – where the incumbent state senator, Victor Ramirez (D), is expected to formally announce his bid for Prince George’s state’s attorney.
The dual announcements come at an emotional time for Latino leaders and their constituents, in the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement that it would end the program allowing young undocumented immigrants to live in the U.S. without fear of being deported.
But will the looming change in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program produce an uptick in political activity by Latinos? Will more Latinos run for office in Maryland?
Sanchez said it is difficult to focus on electoral politics in a certain way, though the Trump edict increases his determination to serve and fight.
“It continues to feel like it’s an assault on Latino communities,” he said.
Sanchez, who is chairman of the Legislative Latino Caucus in Annapolis, which has six executive board members and two dozen associate (non-Hispanic) members, said the plight of immigrant children “is very personal to me.” His parents emigrated from El Salvador in the 1970’s and worked menial jobs to send him to a private high school. He then attended Montgomery College and took 6 ½ years to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, working night jobs to support himself.
“It’s one of the reasons why I became civically engaged afterwards,” Sanchez said. “We need to do a better job of setting the table for future generations.”
Sanchez said the Latino caucus is discussing ways to respond to Trump’s order. The members are urging state Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) to join the lawsuit by other state attorneys general seeking to block the order from taking effect. Frosh called the DACA order “shameful” but has not yet decided whether to sign on to the suit.
The 47th District, wholly inside the Capital Beltway and centered in Hyattsville near the Washington, D.C., line, is divided into two subdistricts, one with two House members and the other with one. Sanchez was appointed to fill the District 47B House vacancy in 2015, when then-Del. Will Campos (D) resigned (Campos has since been indicted in a scandal involving the county liquor board).
Ramirez, who has served in the legislature for 16 years, and Sanchez both face tough battles in 2018. Ramirez is running against former Del. Aisha Braveboy (D) in the race for state’s attorney.
Sanchez will square off against Malcolm Augustine, a marketing executive who was appointed to serve on the Washington Metro board by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D). He finished fourth in the five-way Democratic House primary in District 47A in 2014.
Wanika Fisher, an assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s who has worked for Ramirez and for former Del. Jolene Ivey (D), is also gearing up to run for Senate.
It’s hard to say whether the number of Latinos serving in the General Assembly will grow after the 2018 elections. Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D) of Prince George’s is considered a possible candidate for lieutenant governor on any number of tickets. And Montgomery County Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D) is weighing her options for 2018 – and those include retirement.
Around the state, Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D) is favored to win a third and final term. At least two Latinos, Darwin Romero and Gabe Albornoz, are among the 20-plus Democrats competing for four at-large County Council seats in Montgomery. Albornoz, a former county Democratic chairman who heads the county’s recreation department, seems especially viable at the outset.
In Prince George’s County, Councilmember Deni Taveras (D) is favored for re-election, but it remains to be seen whether that county’s ranks of Latinos will grow.
In Annapolis, Marc Rodriguez, a national Democratic operative and aide to a retiring alderman, is bidding this fall to become the first Latino to serve on the City Council.