NBC News: A Latino Democrat hopes to be the first Hispanic in Congress from Nebraska

In The News   Posted by Tony Vargas · December 14, 2023

NBC News: A Latino Democrat hopes to be the first Hispanic in Congress from Nebraska

In America's Heartland, a child of Peruvian immigrants is trying to snag a U.S. House seat. If he succeeds, he'd be the first Latino elected to Congress from Nebraska.

Tony Vargas, 39, a Nebraska state senator, is mounting a second challenge to four-term incumbent Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican, in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

Vargas is drawing on his working-class roots to connect with voters. And Democrats are betting that his support for abortion rights, his state legislative record and name familiarity, as well as presidential election turnout, will help him win the district that gave Joe Biden an electoral vote in 2020.

In his attempt in 2022, Vargas fell fewer than 6,000 votes short of defeating Bacon in the district that was made slightly more Republican in 2020 redistricting.

“Same person, same district. In a presidential year, you are going to have presidential turnout numbers,” said Democratic consultant Chuck Rocha, founder of Solidarity Strategies and a former adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign.

Vargas is already off to a notable start, coming in third among all congressional challengers in both parties in fundraising in the third quarter. By doing so, he brings more national attention to his race and can draw more contributions.

He outraised Bacon by more than $300,000, with two-thirds coming in the first 24 hours of fundraising. The majority of contributions were working-class Nebraskans who, Vargas said, don't believe Bacon is fighting on behalf of everyday people.

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