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For Immediate Release
Contact: Olga Quinones (323) 286-9684
November 11 , 2006

LATINOS ACHIEVE NEW POLITICAL MILESTONES IN
CONGRESS AND STATE HOUSES

Latinos in states with emerging communities are writing the next chapter
of Latino political history

Los Angeles, California ––Latino candidates continue to reach new milestones in Congress and state houses across the nation, according to an analysis of Election 2006 conducted by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. In state races, Latinos are also demonstrating significant political progress in communities with emerging Latino populations.

U.S. Senate: In the U.S. Senate, Robert Menendez (D) won election to serve his first full term as the nation’s first Latino U.S. Senator from New Jersey. In addition to Menendez, the Latino delegation in the U.S. Senate continues to include Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO), neither of whom were up for election this year.

U.S. House of Representatives: In the U.S. House, all Latino Democratic incumbents won their re-election campaigns. They will be joined by State Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), who gained the seat formerly held by Robert Menendez before he was appointed to the U.S. Senate. All three Latino Republican incumbents in Florida were also successful in their
re-election bids.

As a result of the June 2006 Supreme Court ruling on Texas’ 2003 Congressional redistricting,
a panel of federal judges changed the boundaries of certain Texas Congressional districts, including District 23, currently held by U.S. Representative Henry Bonilla (R). As a result, the November election in this district was a special election, with five Democratic candidates challenging Bonilla. To win the special election and avoid a run-off battle, a candidate needed
to get at least a majority of the vote. None of the candidates received a majority, so U.S. Representative Bonilla will face former U.S. Representative Ciro Rodriguez (D) in a run-off contest scheduled for December 2006. Because both candidates are Latino, this race’s outcome will not affect the total number of Latinos in the House – that number will be 23. However, should Bonilla win, there will be 19 Latino Democrats and 4 Latino Republicans. Should Rodriguez win, there will be 20 Latino Democrats and 3 Latino Republicans. (See Table 1)

As of this writing, unofficial election results from New Mexico indicate that State Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D) is trailing slightly in her bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson (R), and final election results will not be available until a hand-count of about 5,500 ballots is completed. Should Madrid emerge victorious, there will be another Democrat in our nation’s Latino Congressional delegation, and the eighth Latina.

Statewide Officials: In New Mexico, Latinos will hold three statewide positions. Gov. Bill Richardson (D) won his re-election bid. Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera (D) will become the new Secretary of State and State Representative Hector Balderas (D) will serve as State Auditor. In Idaho, Republican Tom Luna emerged victorious in his race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In Oregon, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo garnered enough votes in Oregon’s May primary to win re-election for another term.

State Senates: Minnesota State Program Administrator Patricia Torres Ray (D) made history by becoming the first Latina to be elected to the Minnesota State Senate. The total number of Latino state senators may decline from 60 to 58, depending on the outcome of an extremely close State Senate race in California, where according to the latest unofficial election results, Orange County Supervisor and former State Assemblymember Lou Correa (D) trails Republican Lynn Daucher by 138 votes. Should Correa ultimately win, there will still be a net loss of one Latino State Senate seat. The NALEO Educational Fund attributes this to some unique political developments in this election cycle rather than a long-term erosion of Latino political progress. For example, three Latino State Senators did not run for re-election, and no Latinos ran to replace them. State Senator Sam Zamarripa (D-GA), and veteran lawmakers State Senator Philip Jimeno (D-MD) and State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-TX), all chose to retire from office. (See Table 2)

State Lower Houses: In state lower houses, Latinos saw a very modest overall net gain of two seats, bringing the total number of Latinos in lower state chambers to 180. The Latino Democratic delegations in seven states each gained one additional member: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming. Latino Republican delegations in Idaho, New Mexico and New York also each gained one additional member, including Schoharie County Clerk and former state legislative staff member Peter D. Lopez, who is the first Latino to be elected to the State Assembly from upstate New York. (See Table 3)

Analysis of the lower State House gains also reveals the political progress of Latino candidates in states with emerging Latino communities. In the nine states with traditional Latino population concentrations (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas), there was a total net loss of one seat. However, in the other states, there is a net gain of three seats.

According to Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund, “Latinos in states with emerging communities are writing the next chapter of our political history. They are demonstrating that they can attract votes from and represent diverse constituents. Latinos serving in top federal and state positions have the power to address the issues that are most important to our community, and all Americans: education, economic opportunity, and our involvement in the war in Iraq. Latinos will continue to show that they can provide leadership on these issues for all Americans – our future political
progress depends on it.”


Links:

· NALEO Election 2006 Latino Candidate Results


 


 
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