Inspiring Latinas: The Sanchez Sisters, First Siblings in Congress

To learn more about the Sanchez Sister's story be sure to pick up their new book, Dream in Color, out right now in paperback.

What kind of obstacles did you find yourselves up against when you ran for office?

Linda: Not just because I’m a woman and Latina, but I was relatively young when I ran for congress. At 33 I went to talk to people and ask for their support. There were people who told me I was too young and should wait my turn and others suggested I run for the school board instead. It was mainly things like that, that were dismissive, thinking that somebody who is young and is a woman couldn't possibly run for congress and win.

Loretta: Orange County had never had a woman, a Latina, or a Democrat vying for the Congress. When I decided to run, I had to beat the person who the Democratic Party had already decided was going to be the nominee. Once I beat him, the Democrats were still saying, "This woman doesn’t stand a chance." So, I didn’t get any help locally or nationally. The party, of course they endorsed me, but they didn’t put any money behind me because they didn’t think I could win. So basically, I had to raise a million-plus dollars on my own. We really had to do it ourselves. We faced a lot of obstacles. Racism, sexism, discrimination from the party itself because they didn’t think it could happen. Just all up and down the scale.

How has being sisters helped or hindered you in your positions?

Linda: I think certainly initially people who didn’t know anything about me said "Oh, she’s just running and hoping to win on the Sanchez name alone". I think that was patronizing and I think they’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’m hard working, knowledgeable about the issues, and I get involved. I take a stand on certain issues that I believe in and I’ll fight for them. I think over time people have come to see me as my own person. Initially having a sister in congress
people expected me to be exactly like Loretta.

Loretta: I think it’s a help. She is on different committees and has different friends in the Congress so she keeps me abreast of what’s going on and between the two of us we get to cover a lot more ground. The most important thing, like with anything else, is if you’re not in the room they’re probably talking bad about you, so you’ve got to be at the table. She has a lot of friends and I’m very proud of the work she does, so I think it’s very favorable.

What are your views on the current election? Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, you supported Hillary Clinton while your sister supported Barack Obama initially.

Linda: One of the things that illustrates is that Loretta and I have our own opinions! We're sisters, but we don’t always agree 100% on everything. I know that Loretta has a long-standing relationship with the Clintons. I on the other hand had the opportunity to work with Obama on a couple of issues. He embodies a lot of what I think is right in politics in terms of people who want to make a difference and people who want to get other people engaged in having a say. The freshness of Obama and his integrity and his stances on the issues are what won me over. I think people see him as a beacon of hope, somebody who builds consensus rather than just attacks the other people.

Loretta: Yes, she’s a big Obama supporter and I’m a big Hillary supporter. Obviously it’s going to be Obama who is the nominee for our party so to the extent that he wants me to work to try to get him elected, I will, but I haven’t had this discussion with him yet. Hopefully, we'll get a democrat in.

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