U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) spent much of Thursday in Alexandria meeting with Hispanic business owners as part of a Latino voter outreach ahead of the November election.
In the morning, the former Virginia governor participated in a roundtable discussion with Latino business leaders at SBG Technology Solutions near Braddock Road Metro station. SBG is a defense contractor owned by Carlos Del Toro, a service-disabled veteran.
Kaine then took a walking tour of Arlandria, making stops at Marcela’s Bakery, El Pulgarcito and Beatriz Hair Salon and Academy. He was escorted by Juan Nelson Zavaleta, president of the Arlandria-Chirilagua Business Association, and joined by State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille.
“The Arlandria-Chirilagua vicinity is a really vibrant small business community,” Kaine said. “Immigrant businesses are a real incubator and so much a part of our small business culture.”
Kaine purchased a saltena from Marcela’s and conversed with the owners and customers at each place in Spanish, inquiring about their businesses and chatting about making “investments and reforms” in education, workforce training and immigration laws to assist businesses. Kaine picked up the language while working as a missionary in Honduras in the 1980s.
His campaign is making an emphasis on targeting the 200,000 or so registered Latino voters in Virginia, doing more outreach “than anyone has ever done,” he said. The campaign recently debuted its first Spanish advertisements on television and radio.
Kaine finished the afternoon with a meet and greet at Huascarán Restaurant, where he was joined by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th), Alexandria City Councilwoman Del Pepper, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey and other Democrats.
“We really think the Latin vote could be the key to this election,” Kaine said.
Recent polling shows Kaine in a dead heat with opponent George Allen (R), also a former governor.
Kaine, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will be a speaker at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Ebbin and Euille are also headed to the convention, the fifth trip for Ebbin and fourth for Euille. All three Democrats said they’ve been watching and listening to the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa, Fla.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of energy for the President,” Ebbin said of next week’s convention. “The country will be well served with a reminder of all that Obama has accomplished. That story isn’t getting out this week.”