State Rep. Daniel Hernandez (D-LD2) is running for Congress in Tucson’s CD2. The district is 27% Latino but has never had a Latino member of Congress, he pointed out at the September 30, 2021 meeting of Democrats of Greater Tucson.

In the past, Hernandez ran the national Latino outreach program at Planned Parenthood and aims to bring Latino immigrants “from out of the shadows and into a pathway to citizenship.” He supports HR1, the For the People Act, to protect Latino voting rights.

His sister Alma Hernandez is also a state House member from LD3 and his other sister Consuelo Hernandez is on the Sunnyside Unified School District governing board.

“We’ve seen that voting rights have come under attack by Republican legislators. Instead of trying to change voters’ minds, they are trying to change the rules to make it easier for them to maintain power,” he said.

He called for passage of the For the People Act, introduced as HR.1, which is a bill in Congress to expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, and stop a wave of Republican state laws clamping down on ballot access.

Democratic leaders said the voting bill will be the “first matter of legislative business” when they return to Washington, DC, in mid-September. Hernandez said, “There’s nothing more fundamental than voting rights. We need to make sure that we’re protecting people’s voting rights.”

Infrastructure

Hernandez called on voters to contact current sitting members of Congress from southern Arizona to pass two infrastructure bills:

  • The $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives. The Senate gave the measure overwhelming bipartisan approval on August 10, which had been negotiated by Kyrsten Sinema. The House advanced the bill on August 24 and agreed to vote on it by Sept. 27.
  • A $3.5 trillion budget plan that would expand Medicare, tax credits and climate initiatives. The Senate passed the plan on August 11 by a vote of 50-49. The House passed the plan on August 24 by a 220-212 party-line vote. The plan would also expand paid family and medical leave, make child care more accessible, create universal pre-K and tuition-free community college, expand green energy and curb climate change through business tax incentives, consumer rebates and polluter fees. This paves the way to finalize the bill in the reconciliation process.

“I hear from my colleagues on the Republican side that climate change is just a hoax that this is all being overblown by Democrats. Yet we are in the biggest struggle that we’ve had in Arizona state history over the Colorado River is that really drastically low levels. There are farms and ranches and Pinal county where they’re not allowed to grow anything anymore because of the high scarcity of water,” he said.

Hernandez said he’s visited Israel, where about 85% of water is reused. He said in Arizona, only 20% of water is reused. “We have very arid and dry climates here in the desert, and we need to create a change so that people are getting used to reused water, not just for watering their grass but also purifying it for everything else.”

He also supports new tax credits to inspire rooftop solar energy. “I think it’s a tragedy that in Arizona. We have over 300 days of sunshine, and yet Germany has a higher rate of solar panel usage, and they have significantly less sunshine than Arizona,” he said.

Healthcare

“I also am really excited about the possibility to strengthen and expand the Affordable Care Act, to make sure that we’re providing access to healthcare. It’s one of the things that I see and hear all the time when I’m talking to folks. In places like Cochise county, you shouldn’t have to drive an hour or more to be able to see your doctor and to see a specialist.”

When Hernandez was 17, he was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. “I didn’t have health insurance for almost eight months. During those eight months, my body started shutting down — my kidneys, my liver, my heart — but we weren’t able to get the health care that I needed. But I saw firsthand on the brink of death how hard it is to not have health insurance. That’s why I’m really focused on expanding the Affordable Care Act.

However, Hernandez would not commit to voting for Medicare For All but agreed to look into it.

Immigration reform

“Living in southern Arizona representing a border county for the last five years in the legislature, I see that far too often our border is used as a photo op by Republican politicians every two to four years when it’s time to run for reelection, so they can talk about how there is ‘a crisis at the border,'” he said. “And they demonize these border communities as being unsafe, when they are some of the safest communities in the country.”

He said the real problem is Republican politicians using immigration to rally anti-immigrant hate, particularly against the Latino community in Arizona. “We need to create a plan for how we bring these people back into the mainstream, and from out of the shadows and into a pathway to citizenship — and not just for the Dreamers,” he said.

“The last five years in the legislature have been really tough training ground. I am running for Congress because I know that southern Arizona needs a strong voice in the vein of Gabby Giffords and Ron Barber.” He said he was the only candidate that has any labor support, citing endorsements from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and the Arizona Federation of Teachers.

Hernandez entered the congressional race in May and raised $268,000 in donations. He listed $19,000 in debt for various campaign expenses. “We have had more than 1,500 individual donors. We were powered by people and cactus roots. We’ve not taken any corporate donations from any corporate Pacs,” he said, adding that he has received donations from the Equality Pac and the Victory Fund of the Boilermakers Union.

For more information, visit Daniel Hernandez for Congress.