Politics

There Will Be More Latinos in Congress Than Ever

42 Hispanic members will serve in the 116th Congress

Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington won a fourth term in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler’s re-election win made official Wednesday night, Congress is set to see its largest ever class of Latino lawmakers. 

There will be at least 42 Latinos serving, between both chambers, come January.

The outstanding race for California’s open 39th District could add to that number. Latino Democrat Gil Cisneros is running  against Korean-American Republican Young Kim to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ed Royce.

There were 59 Latino congressional candidates, incumbents and newcomers alike, on the general election ballot this cycle — 44 Democrats and 15 Republicans, The Associated Press reported

Not counting California’s 39th, there will be 33 Latino Democrats and seven Latino Republicans serving in the 116th Congress. Latinos will make up 12.7 percent of Congress. (They constitute 17.8 percent of the nation’s total population in July 2016, according to the Census Bureau.)

Forty-one Hispanic members serve in the 115th Congress — four in the Senate and 37 in the House.

Some notable newcomers include New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will be the youngest member of Congress, and the first Latinas to represent Texas in Congress, Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia.

Congress is losing some strong Latino voices, including Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who was elected governor; Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring after 30 years; and Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who lost his bid for a third term to Latina Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Lujan Grisham and Ros-Lehtinen’s replacements are non-Latino.

The Senate isn’t getting any Latino newcomers, but Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Ted Cruz of Texas won their re-elections. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada were not on the ballot this cycle.

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