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House candidates in Texas appealing to voters in Spanish


The following ran in the Sept. 22, 2012, edition of the Los Angeles Times. Political scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

September 25, 2012

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

One of the most competitive congressional races in the country could be decided in Spanish. Candidates in Texas' heavily Latino U.S. House District 23, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, will debate next week entirely in a language other than English, a first for a congressional race in the state.

The Spanish-only debate between incumbent Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, a tea party Republican, and his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Pete Gallego, highlights the growing influence of Latino voters in Texas — and U.S. — politics....

"If there's an advantage, it would be for Canseco because Hispanics in Texas 2 to 1 vote Democrat. They will see two Hispanics, both comfortable in Spanish. If he performs credibly, a number of the viewers could potentially say, 'I've got to think about that guy,'" said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas....