Nothing quite describes the word “first” coupled with “nothing” as much as Amanda Renteria, the Hillary Clinton campaign’s political director. Other than the fact she is Hispanic and Clinton is appealing (pandering) for Latino votes, this is an odd choice. We will inevitably hear the puff pieces from the mainstream media about how Renteria, the daughter of a Mexican migrant worker, pulled herself up to attend Harvard Business School and eventually enter politics. Being a Latina woman, there are the obvious “firsts” along the way.
She was a staff aid to Diane Feinstein before becoming the “first” Latina chief-of-staff in the US Senate when [mc_name name=’Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S000770′ ] picked her for that job. At the time, Stabenow was Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and they were negotiating the farm bill which was being threatened. Although Renteria had no direct say in that bill’s formulation, some credit her with keeping the lines of communication open among interested parties on both sides of the aisle.
After the Frank-Dodd bill passed, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission- an obscure agency- took on added importance as it was tasked with writing rules for derivatives. The Senate Agriculture Committee oversaw the CFTC. Faced with a vacancy at a critical time, the Obama administration seriously considered Renteria as a replacement on the Commission which was still writing those rules. Again, there were choruses in the press about how the CFTC could be getting their “first Latina” member. It should be noted that this came at a critical time during the writing of those rules.
However, financial reform advocates expressed some surprise that Obama would consider Renteria for such an important job at such an important time. It was noted, at the time, that Renteria played very little, if any, role in financial regulation legislation. Clearly, she was not the person for the job and Obama never did nominate her.
After her stint with Stabenow, she returned to California to run for Congress in the 21st District against Republican David Valadeo. At the time, pundits on both sides believed Valadeo was a vulnerable Republican in a year that largely favored the GOP.
Our own Moe Lane here at Redstate had an article about Renteria’s campaign website that actually directed the viewer to an attack site run by the Republican Party. To paraphrase, if she was going to run a campaign like that, then Valadeo had nothing to worry about. In fact, Valadeo easily won reelection in 2014.
After that loss, Renteria obviously kept her options open and networked among people she had met while a staffer in the Senate. For whatever reason, Clinton tapped her as her national political director. There is an actual clue to Clinton’s reasoning. Renteria was heavily supported by the Latino Victory Project, a program designed to advance Hispanics electorally while focusing on comprehensive immigration reform. One of the co-founders of that group is actress Eva Longoria who was also a fundraising chair for the Democratic National Committee. They recently announced a new initiative called the “Firsts” campaign designed to get Hispanics to be the “first” of anything- first Latino mayor of (insert city name here), first CEO of (insert company name here), etc.
As political director, she is charged with keeping the lines of communication open between the Clinton campaign and members of Congress and making sure everyone is on the same page as far as policy and messaging. Renteria is there to make sure Clinton does not run into unforeseen policy opposition from her own party, to keep her finger on the pulse of elected Democrats regarding Clinton, and as liason with special interest groups and businesses.
Thus far, Renteria has kept a low profile. Speaking of firsts, her first interview after being named political director of the campaign was with Al Sharpton on MSNBC. She also gave a one-question puff interview to Telemundo after Clinton’s immigration speech in Nevada in May. Again, she stated that Hillary was the first candidate to address Hispanic youth and the importance of the DREAM executive order and immigration reform.
Given her relative inexperience since she pales in comparison to other Clinton operatives, one has to believe that if there is a chance of some inappropriate comment coming out of the Clinton camp, it will come from Renteria. At the end, she maybe adding another first to her resume: first failed Latina national political director for a major presidential campaign.