Hispanic candidates made historic gains at the state legislature level on Tuesday, according to analysis of unofficial election results and media reports released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.
Following Election 2012, Latinos will serve in the state legislatures of 36 states across the country, with 70 Latinos serving as state senators. Several of the election candidates successfully ran in districts and states without Latino majorities, demonstrating that Latinos can have broad appeal across all ethnicities and communities.
Significant gains and political milestones were achieved for the Latino community on election night, including the following at the state senate level:
-- The Conn. State Senate will feature two Latino legislators for the first time in history. State Representative Andres Ayala (D) won his 23rd district race against Caz Mizera (R). In the 33(rd) district, business owner Art Linares (R) emerged victorious in a close contest with State Representative James Crawford (D);
-- In the Del. State Legislature, youth development program executive Ernesto Lopez (R) was successful in his race against business owner Andrew Staton (D) in the sixth district. Lopez will be the second Latino to serve in the Del. state legislature; and Fla. State Representative Darren Soto (D) won his race against attorney William McBride (R) for the 14th district seat, bringing the total number of Latinos in the state senate to four.
Latino candidates also achieved notable gains at the state lower house level this year, with the total number of Latinos rising from 190 to 206. States with increased numbers of Latino legislators or notable milestones in the state lower chamber include:
-- The Ariz. State House of Representatives, which will increase from eight to 13 Latinos;
-- Latino legislators elected to serve in the Calif. State Assembly will reach 19, an increase of four; and
-- Maine elected their first Latino to the state house of representatives.
Former flight attendant and community leader Lisa Villa (D) won her contest for the 98th district against business owner Roxanna Hagerman (R).
"We are pleased to see gains at the state legislature level for Latino candidates," stated Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO Educational Fund. "As leaders on the front lines of their communities, Latino state legislators play a crucial role in addressing the issues that affect the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans.
A full analysis of Latinos in the state senate and lower houses is available on our website at http://www.naleo.org/downloads/State_Leg_Table_2012.pdf.
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