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House Hispanic PAC breaks fundraising record

The campaign arm for Hispanic Democrats broke its fundraising record in the first quarter of 2017 amid conflict with the Trump administration over immigration reform and healthcare.

Bold PAC, which is affiliated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's (CHC), raised more than $2 million between January and March, roughly a third of the $6.12 million it raised over the entire 2016 campaign cycle.

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), head of Bold PAC, told The Hill that the Trump administration's policies were a main driver of the fundraising success.

"As long as there is the vitriol and the extremism that's coming out of the White House and coming out of the Republicans wanting to take 24 million people's healthcare away, as long as they're doing things like that, I think we're going to have a strong response," Cardenas said.

Since the 2016 campaign cycle, the group has relied on small individual donations rather than large bulk donations for a majority of its fundraising.

In 2017 so far, Bold PAC says it has received donations from over 130,000 individuals, averaging $12.99 each.

The fundraising model was used successfully by former President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 2016 campaign. But Cardenas drew a distinction between those efforts and his strategy for the 2018 midterms.

"We don't have to follow their blueprint, all we have to do is pay attention to what this president tweets or [White House spokesman Sean] Spicer says or remind them [White House chief strategist Stephen] Bannon is still his top adviser," said Cardenas.

In 2016, Bold PAC supported more non-Latino than Latino candidates, but it paired up with CHC members in a recruitment effort to identify and tutor Hispanic politicians to target specific House seats.

Cardenas credits that system with the election of candidates like Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), who went into a general election against a Democratic opponent endorsed by the California Democratic Party and then-Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.).

Bold PAC is getting an early start in the 2018 cycle by endorsing California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez to fill the seat vacated by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Cardenas said Bold PAC donated the maximum allowable amount for Gomez's election.

Because it is not a super PAC, Bold PAC is limited in the amount of money it can spend in each individual race.

The California special election will take place in June between Gomez and Los Angeles City Planning Commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, another Democrat.

In California's all-party primary elections, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

Cardenas has been widely credited with driving the CHC's growth; it reached a record 31 members before Becerra's appointment in January, largely through his aggressive fundraising efforts.

Cardenas said that while Trump "is helping" his efforts, Bold PAC's growth is due to Democrats having "explanations and answers" for issues affecting everyday Americans.

"We would love to put a lot of resources into defeating [GOP Rep.] Darrell Issa, definitely would like to put a lot of resources into seats in the Central Valley in California that are ripe to turn from Republican to Democrat, especially those from non-Latino to Latino," he said.

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