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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hispanic state legislator goes Obama

By David McGrath Schwartz
Assemblyman Mo Denis, one of only three Hispanic legislators in Nevada, endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama this morning, adding to Obama’s hope that he can cross old racial barriers and win Latino support.

Denis had been supporting New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who withdrew from the race last week. Denis, of Las Vegas, said he made his decision after conversations with the Obama campaign.

Nevada’s other Latino lawmaker, Ruben Kihuen, is campaigning for Hillary Clinton. Kihuen’s endorsement of the New York senator has received wide attention because he is widely seen as a rising star in Nevada politics.

Denis, 46, is less dynamic but watching him last month as he canvassed a working class neighborhood for Richardson showed that he has ample standing among Hispanics. The second-term Assemblyman is also president of the state Parent Teacher Association.

The New York Times has a story today about Obama’s attempt to reach out to Hispanics and bridge a racial divide between the black and Hispanic communities that is more pronounced among older, first-generation Latinos.

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