WASHINGTON — Hispanic candidates emerged as winners after Tuesday's elections, lifting the number of Hispanic members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to record levels.
"There's an increase in Latino political power," said Gloria Montano Greene, director of the Washington office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. "In the last Congress we had 24 and we'll have as many as 27 in the new Congress."
There will be five new GOP Hispanic members of the House — two from Texas, Bill Flores of Bryan and Francisco Canseco of San Antonio; Jaime Herrera of Camas, Wash., the first Latina to represent Washington State; Raul Labrador from the Idaho district that includes Boise, and David Rivera of the Miami area.
In addition, Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban refugees and a tea party candidate, will be a new U.S. senator from Florida.
In all, there will be at least 17 Democratic Hispanic members, seven Republicans and two U.S. senators in the upcoming Congress.
One incumbent Hispanic, Democrat Solomon Ortiz of Corpus Christi, Texas, is trailing Tea Party-backed businessman and former radio host Blake Farenthold. Just 799 votes separates the two and Ortiz hinted Wednesday that he might ask for a recount.
In addition, one Texas incumbent, Democrat Ciro Rodriguez of San Antonio, was defeated by Canseco.
In other races, Hispanic Republicans emerged in new roles.
In New Mexico, Santa Fe district attorney Susanna Martinez became the nation's first Latina elected governor, joined by Lt. Governor-elect John Sanchez. In Nevada, former judge Brian Sandoval became that state's first Hispanic governor.
According to Montano Greene, "Latinos came out and voted in higher numbers." In the last mid-term elections, NALEO calculated that 5.5 million Latinos voted. Preliminary estimates for this week's election indicates that 6.5 million Latinos voted, she said.
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