Latino candidate shut out of Latino group’s forum

Speaking of the Democratic Senate primary, Juan Dominguez, an Anne Arundel County businessman who set up an exploratory committee in the spring ahead of an expected full-blown campaign, is protesting the fact that he’s not being allowed to participate in the Latino Democrats of Prince George’s County Senate forum scheduled for Sept. 30.

Dominguez, the son of Cuban emigres, will likely be the only Latino candidate in the race.

In an interview, Dominguez said he was told by club leaders that they had set a financial threshold for participating in the forum: Candidates had to have raised at least $200,000 to be invited. As a result, only Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando and U.S. Rep. David Trone are expected to appear.

Dominguez said he objected to the random threshold, and he argued that he met it, in a roundabout way. But club officials have yet to respond.

“They’ve gone radio silent,” Dominguez said.

Former state Sen. Victor Ramirez, the chair of the Prince George’s Latino Democrats, did not immediately respond to a phone message Monday.

Dominguez’ report of campaign finance activities between April 1 and June 30 — filed with the Federal Election Commission in mid-August, six weeks after the filing deadline — showed he raised $97,792 during that period, including a $21,600 loan from his own pocket.

But Dominguez said he recently donated a practically new family RV to his campaign, with only 3,000 miles on it, to travel around the state as he stumps for Senate. The RV’s estimated value exceeds $100,000, and the donation counts as an in-kind contribution. As such, he argued, he has exceeded the $200,000 threshold.

During the same fundraising period, Trone took in $9,833,793 — $9,725,000 from his own pocket, Alsobrooks raised $1,730,019 and Jawando raised $526,026.

Dominguez said he’s not surprised by the snub.

“I think this is the establishment saying, ‘Here are our three people: good luck,’” he said. Citing last week’s nationally televised Republican presidential debate, which featured eight candidates, Dominguez said there’s value in having multiple voices on a debate stage.

“I expect to see more of the same, but I’m unbowed,” he said.