The Next Congress Will Have The Most Latino Members Ever
Latino candidates fared well in House and Senate races on Tuesday, meaning that a record number of Latino lawmakers will head to Washington next year.
A total of 30 Latinos will serve in the 113th Congress, three in the Senate and 27 in the House (the number could go up to 28, and 31 total, if one race in California is called). Overall, eight (or possibly nine) Latino members were elected as freshman to the House of Representatives, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).
But not every Latino candidate running in competitive races fared well. Arizona Democrat Richard Carmona fell short in his bid to upset Republican Jeff Flake. And a swath of House candidates, such as Nevada's John Oceguera (D) and California's Abel Maldonado (R) and José Hernández (D), also lost.
Below, meet the successful new faces.
Ted Cruz: The Texas Republican will become the third Latino senator, joining New Jersey's Bob Menendez and Florida's Marco Rubio, all of whom are of Cuban-American descent. He will be the first Latino ever to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. Cruz ran on a Tea Party mantle and was able to knock off establishment favorite David Dewhurst in the state's GOP primary, paving his way to victory. Cruz has earned comparisons to Rubio and is seen as a rising star in the party, so it will be sure to watch how he positions himself in upper chamber.
Joaquín Castro: He is the twin brother of San Antonio Mayor and Democratic convention keynote speaker Julián Castro. But Joaquín will look to make his own mark representing Texas' 20th district. He has big shoes to fill; he's taking the seat of veteran Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who is retiring at end of this Congress.
Pete Gallego: Gallego, a Democrat, defeated freshman Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco (R) 50-45 percent in a closely-watched race. He previously served in the Texas House of Representatives.
Filemon Vela, Jr.: The attorney and Democrat will represent a newly-formed district in South Texas between Brownsville and Corpus Christi. His family has a long political history, his father served as a federal judge and his mother was mayor of Brownsville.
Joe Garcia:The South Florida Democrat defeated Republican David Rivera, who was dogged by scandal stemming from allegations of impropriety in his personal and campaign finances as well as accusations that he attempted to secretly fund a candidate against Garcia in the Democratic primary. Garcia will become the first Cuban-American Democrat to represent Miami-Dade County in Congress.
Raúl Ruiz: As of this writing, the Democratic candidate was leading 14-year incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack by 4,557 votes (2.8 percent) with 100 percent of precincts reporting. If the result holds, it would mark a big upset in California's Coachella Valley. Their campaign was particularly rancorous, with Mack labeling Ruiz a radical for participating in a protest for Native Americans as a Harvard medical student in the 1990s, according to reports.
Tony Cardenas: The Los Angeles City Councilmember won a seat in the San Fernando Valley. The Democratic congressman-elect is the son of immigrants from Mexico.
Gloria Negrete McLeod: In a close race, the Democratic newcomer unseated Rep. Joe Baca in Southern California's San Bernardino Valley. The Los Angeles native previously served in the California state Senate.
Juan Vargas: Vargas easily defeated his Republican opponent and will represent a district that begins in the San Diego area and runs across the U.S.-Mexico border. He is currently a member of the California state Senate.
Michelle Lujan Grisham: The Democrat will become the first Latina in the state to serve in the U.S. House. She comes from a prominent New Mexico political family; her uncle Manuel Lujan served in the House as a Republican and her cousin.