A group of local Hispanics threw their support behind U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) Wednesday in her primary election contest against U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland).
The group was predominantly from Lucas County, and it was not clear whether the endorsement would make a difference in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties, where Miss Kaptur is not as well-known as Mr. Kucinich.
Miss Kaptur and Mr. Kucinich, along with Graham Veysey, a Cleveland video entrepreneur, are competing in the March 6 primary for the Democratic nomination to represent the new 9th Congressional District.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, Toledo City Councilman Adam Martinez, and former Toledo City Council President Louis Escobar said Miss Kaptur's support and behind-the-scenes advice helped them win election.
Speakers lauded Miss Kaptur as a friend of the Spanish-speaking community over her 29 years in Congress.
Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, recalled that Miss Kaptur went to Mexico to seek justice on behalf of a FLOC staffer who was assassinated.
"You don't find too many elected officials who go that extra mile to rally for the people at the bottom," Mr. Velasquez said.
Mr. Kucinich is also making a push for Hispanic backing. He campaigned among Hispanics in Toledo Jan. 15, citing his support of the Dream Act, a bill in Congress that Miss Kaptur voted against in 2010.
The bill offered conditional residency to illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors and either graduated from high school and then went on to college or enlisted in the military. It was passed by the House but died in the Senate.
Virginia Ortega, a longtime Hispanic activist who joined the group Wednesday at the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center on Broadway in South Toledo, said "immigration is a small, small part of the issues surrounding the Latino community."
Ms. Ortega said Latinos continued to be the victims of "systemic discrimination" and said Miss Kaptur has set an example by making it a point to hire Hispanic staffers.
Miss Kaptur said the Dream Act had provisions that would have identified the families of Hispanic college students for immigration enforcement.
And she said the bill is bad legislation because it treats Hispanic immigrants differently from immigrants from other nations.
Mr. Kucinich could not immediately be reached. He noted with approval Tuesday that President Obama's State of the Union address included a call for passage of the Dream Act.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.