SAN ANTONIO — Lupe Rivera says the only way to get something done is to get politically involved, and that’s why he’s voted since he was 18 years old.
“Of course my older brothers, they had an influence on me, they explain everything. I study the candidates like they say. That’s why I’ve been leaning conservative,” Rivera says.
He proudly shows his support with the signs and flags that are hard to miss in the front yard of his South San Antonio home. He says he has to constantly explain his conservative views to his gente (people) because they expect him to be Democrat.
“That’s it. I’ve had to explain to people why I’m with the GOP? I’m not against the Democrats, but I’m against their politics. If they don’t help, why should I vote?” Rivera asked.
That same passion is shared just across the highway where Norma Cavasos lives. She’s a Democrat and her involvement in politics stems back to her immigrant parents who couldn’t vote.
“It was only one lecture that my dad had to give me, to never ever forget the importance and the privilege that I had to voice my voice and cast a vote,” Rivera said.
Both plan on voting in a state representative runoff election going on in their backyard.
The race is between two Latinos, John Lujan and Frank Ramirez – one is a Republican in an area that has a long history of going Democrat.
Political science advisor Christy Woodward says Latinos in Texas are thought to primarily be Democrats, but that’s changing in some areas like Zapata county.
She says this is because Republicans are making efforts into highly concentrated Latino communities.
“The number one factor with the Latino population in Texas is education and affluence. What can flip the switch from the Democrats to the Republicans is religious affiliation,” Woodward said.
That has played a role in why Rivera votes Republican.
“That’s not the only reason I go for them. I go for them because they are contributing to the community,” Rivera said. “He’s a Christian man, he’s pro-guns, he’s anti-abortion, he’s a family man.”
Cavasos doesn’t believe that it should be assumed that Latinos belong to a certain party.
“I don’t believe that your race or your ethnicity warrants how you politically views things,” Cavasos said.
This is why experts say the Latino community in Texas can’t be painted with a political paintbrush.