As the year winds down, a look back on the Latino political scene shows that it was a pretty momentous year for Latinos in the United States. First there was the first ever Latino keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, Julian Castro, but there were several other major moments for Latinos, illustrating an ascendence into mainstream American politics.
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As Texas Congressman Charlie Gonzalez decided not to run for re-election, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus selected another Texan — Ruben Hinojosa — to replace him.
Eva Longoria, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Congressman Charles Gonzalez and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa were among the 7 Latino co-chairs of the Obama campaign this year.
Although he did not win California’s 10th congressional district, farmworker-turned-astronaut José Hernandez ran against Republican Jeff Denham in a conservative district.
Republican Palm Springs area Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack lost to physician Raul Ruiz in a tight congressional race this year. Ruiz pulled ahead in the last months of the campaign beat incumbent Bono Mack, who’d been in office since her late husband Sonny Bono died in 1998, after alienating both Latino and Native American voters in her district.
The Obama Administration’s decision to cease deporting DREAM Act eligible immigrant youth, and also give them legal status, was a huge deal.
Puerto Rico voted to examine its current status, with 62% of the voters selecting the option to seek statehood.
Republican and Tea Party poster child Ted Cruz became the state’s first ever Latino U.S. Senator this year, after the institutional- and Rick Perry-back Republican candidate David Dewhurst lost in a primary. This is a big deal because Cruz is Cuban American, and Texas’ large Mexican American population has been largely and historically excluded from electoral politics in the state for centuries.
Latino voters are growing in importance to the electorate, given that they were 10% of the voters this election, an increase from 2008. This means that Democrats need to be more inclusive of Latinos — who vote for them in large margins — and that Republicans risk becoming irrelevant in much of the country if they don’t change course to include them with non-offensive policy positions.
The Obama Administration broke a record with Latinos this year — and not in a good way. Deporting 409,849 people this year means that Obama is responsible for deporting more people in a single year than ever before.
For the first time a Latino was the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gave an energizing speech in which he spoke of his family’s story of immigration and moving up the socioeconomic ladder through hard work as the American story.