1:41pm December 30, 2012

The 30 Latinos & Latinas Who Made the 2012 Election

Barack Obama

Not all of the key players in the 2012 election were politicians. Here’s a list, that by no means is comprehensive, that gives us a look into the Latinos and Latinas that were instrumental in the 2012 election.

  1. Latino volunteers – Those who basically made campaigning across the country possible, from registering voters to fundraising, phone banking, getting out the vote, and organizing for local and national candidates.
  2. Latino voters – Accounting for 1 in 10 votes this cycle, Latino voters took to the polls to potently remind politicos across the spectrum that they cannot ignore this constituency when it comes to policy and campaigning.
  3. Katherine Archuleta – The first Latina to ever hold the title National Political Director of any presidential campaign. Archuleta served as the National Political Director for Obama for America 2012.
  4. Gaby Pacheco & other DREAMers, activists – Pacheco has been one of the most visible DREAMers and combined with the work of thousands of DREAMers across the country pushed the president towards offering them a pathway to legal status with the administration’s deferred action program.
  5. Julián Castro – The mayor of San Antonio gave a rousing keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, and notably, was the first Latino ever to do so.
  6. Congressman Luis Gutierrez – When people think of an impassioned advocate for immigration reform, the congressman from Illinois inevitably comes to mind.
  7. Adrian Saenz – As the National Latino Vote Director for Obama for America, the Texas native headed up the Obama campaign’s Latino outreach based in Chicago.
  8. Latino OFA Co-Chairs – This year 7 of 35 of the co-chairs of the Obama for American campaign, were Latino including: Lynnette Acosta – OFA volunteer leader from Florida; San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro – Mayor of San Antonio; Maria Elena Durazo – Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Congressman Charles A. Gonzalez; Eva Longoria; Secretary Federico Peña – Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Energy; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  9. Congressman Charles Gonzalez, former Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair – As chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and as an OFA co-chair, the Texas congressman served as a powerful surrogate for the president, as well as a voice that constantly stressed the need for a more human conversation around immigration reform, particularly during the Republican primaries.
  10. Governor Luis Fortuño – The Republican leader of Puerto Rico has overseen a surge in violence in his country at the same time voters were considering a status referendum. He called for a special legislative session to seek Congress’ approval of statehood.
  11. Eva Longoria – The actress was heavily involved not only in campaigning, but also with her work with fundraising for the campaign via the Futuro Fund, which after the campaign has pledged to work on immigration reform.
  12. Antonio Villaraigosa – The Los Angeles mayor was a frequent surrogate for the president during the campaign, particularly when it came to speaking to Latino audiences.
  13. Richard Carmona – Formerly a U.S. Surgeon General under President George W. Bush, the Puerto Rican from New York ran on the Democratic ticket for U.S. Senate in Arizona against conservative congressman Jeff Flake, who won. But, Carmona’s campaign excited Latinos and other liberals in the state, so much so that immediately after his victory, Flake endorsed immigration reform — a tenet of Carmona’s campaign.
  14. Joe García – The first Cuban American Democrat ever elected to Congress from Miami.
  15. Raul Ruiz – The Democrat and first-time congressman beat out Republican Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, who had been in Congress in the Palm Springs-area district since the 1990s.
  16. Mary Gonzalez – The newly elected state representative from the El Paso area is Texas’ first openly “pansexual” politico.
  17. Ted Cruz – The first Latino U.S. Senator from Texas is a Cuban American Republican.
  18. Pete Gallego – Formerly a state representative, Gallego rassled Texas’ 23rd district back from Republican Quico Canseco in a tight race that involved some terse mudslinging.
  19. Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF – The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has been involved in important litigation ranging from redistricting to voting rights.
  20. Alida García – As the National Latino Vote Deputy Director at Obama for America García organized resources to mobilize Latino voters in important swing states like Colorado.
  21. Joaquin Castro – The newly elected Congressman from San Antonio, and twin of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, raised more than $100,000 for fellow Democratic candidates.
  22. Reggie Cardozo, Political Director OFA-Florida – Although the president won re-election without Florida, it was a battleground state even before Republicans had selected their candidate.
  23. Bettina Inclán – As the Director of Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, Inclán was an important voice to communicate the party’s policy to Latinos during the election.
  24. Marco Rubio – The Florida Senator and Tea Party favorite has contributed to a more conservative alternative to the DREAM Act, as well as working to create a more welcome space for Latinos on the right side of the political spectrum.
  25. Susana Martinez – Although she was critical of Mitt Romney during parts of the campaign, Martinez has served as a way to highlight New Mexico’s political importance during the election.
  26. Angela Barranco, National Western Regional Director at Obama for America – Barranco oversaw a large swath of the country where Latino voters are concentrated for OFA.
  27. Emmy Ruiz, General Election Director OFA – Nevada – This state was, of course, a swing state during the election and Latino voters here have historically put Democrats over the edge to win.
  28. Futuro Fund – The folks from the Latino-centric fundraising organization for the president, and now immigration reform, include: Andrés W. López, Henry Muñoz, Manny Sanchez, Giselle Fernandez and Zach Portilla.
  29. Latino Decisions – Matt Baretto and Gary Segura – The Latino-focused polling firm published key polls and stats throughout the campaign, consistently, that shaped the way the campaigns did their work.
  30. Cecilia Muñoz – White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council – Muñoz was, despite her title, the administration’s voice for defending its unpopular immigration policy last year — until the administration swiftly changed course. In any case, Muñoz helped define, and set up, the immigration debate that ultimately was pivotal during the election.

About the Author

Sara Inés Calderón
Sara Inés Calderón
Sara Inés Calderón is a journalist and writer bouncing between California and Texas.



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  1. Wish you had included Raul Grijalva, otherwise a great list!


  3. You missed Lilia Galindo, Hostess of Cafe Con Leche. Instramental in the overturn of California AD36. by a mere 157 votes. Latinos came out to vote because of her.

  4. Congratulations, Adrian Saenz! This is not the first national election in which you played a key role. (I’m thinking especially of the Congressional elections in 2006 when you were national field director for DCCC!) Only question: How come your picture isn’t there next to Ms. Longoria’s? Proud to know you and to call you my friend! Prospero Año!

  5. Proud of you my son! Keep up the great work. Que Dios te Bendiga siempre!
    Love Mom

  6. You missed Markos Moulitas whose group blog the Daily Kos energized and organized Americans across the country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markos_Moulitsas

  7. Bettina Inclan did what exactly?

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