Across America Latino Leaders are Emerging in Senate & House Contests

Washington, DC [CapitalWirePR] November 5, 2012 – New Hispanic faces will emerge in Tuesday’s election to lead our country now and into a challenging future.

Perhaps the best known contender, and a familiar face, is that of Richard Carmona for the United States Senate seat representing Arizona. Democrat Carmona is in a close race with Republican nominee Jeff Flake. Carmona has led in polls but an influx of negative advertising money and a ‘coming home to Flake’ by conservatives have put Carmona’s challenge in jeopardy.  Alexander Burns reports that Carmona bests Flake 70/26 among Hispanics, but this is not enough to overcome Flake’s lead among white voters, 59/39, if this holds on election day.

Here’s a brief look at the races of other emerging new Latino leaders seeking election to the House of Representatives.


3rd Congressional: Democratic incumbent Raúl Grijalva is being challenged by Republican Gabriela Saucedo Mercer in the 3rd Congressional District. Saucedo Mercer immigrated to the U.S. in 1986 and became a citizen in 1991. A resident of Tucson, she has been endorsed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and the Arizona Latino Republican Association. Grijalva is heavily favored to retain this seat.


10th Congressional: Democratic nominee José Hernández worked on farms before earning an engineering degree. Hernández then earned a doctorate and became an astronaut. He is challenging first term Republican Congressman Jeff Dunham in the newly reconfigured 10th District. SEIU California, the Teamsters, AFSCME, the Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners, IBEW, the California Federation of Teachers and the Sierra Club, among others, endorse Hernández. Hernández is competitive in funding and in the polls.

21st Congressional: Republican nominee David Valadao has served in the California State Assembly and is running in a GOP leaning 21st District against Democrat John Hernández.  Of Portuguese descent, Valadao has been named to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee’s Young Guns program. This race is one of the Republicans’ top targeted races. Valadao and his brothers run farming and dairy businesses in Kings and Tulare Counties in the new district. John Hernández has led the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is a successful insurance broker. In addition, Hernandez has been lauded for his support of Fresno State University, his alma mater.  John Hernández must have heavy Hispanic turnout to win this race.

24th Congressional: Republican nominee Abel Maldonado, the former Lieutenant Governor of California, brings state- wide recognition to a race in a district that, following re-districting, is now perceived to be more conservative.  Democratic incumbent Lois Capps is leading in polls and Maldonado is in a dispute with the IRS which is claiming millions in unpaid taxes.  Nevertheless, Maldonado is a strong challenger and there is a crop of new constituents in the re-drawn 24th District. Speaker of the House John Boehner joined Maldonado on the campaign trail in Santa Barbara over Labor Day weekend. Most polls show this race to be competitive.

29th Congressional:  Democratic nominee Tony Cárdenas has served in the California State Assembly and on the Los Angeles City Council. He has the endorsements of most of the major Democratic Party players from Los Angeles to Sacramento, ranging from State Assembly Speaker Pérez to LA Mayor Villaraigosa. Cárdenas also recently won the endorsement of the powerful labor force in the district, the SEIU California, for the newly drawn, and predominantly Latino, San Fernando Valley Congressional district.  The Republican Party nominee is David Hernández, Executive Director of the San Fernando Chamber of Commerce who has served on numerous non-profit boards. Cardenas is heavily favored.

36th Congressional: California’s newly re-drawn 36th Congressional District has spawned a tight race between incumbent Republican Mary Bono Mack and the Democratic Party nominee Paul Ruiz.  As a result of the latest Census and re-districting, the 36th Congressional District is now almost 50% Hispanic, although only 25% are registered voters[FDG1] . Overall, the District now has 114,406 voters registered as Democrats and 114,288 registered as Republicans. Hispanic political operatives have worked hard to even the registration numbers for the first time. These demographics, the fruits of a robust voter registration drive and a strong Latino candidate, Dr. Paul Ruiz, have drawn national attention.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has elevated Paul Ruiz’ campaign to its Top 10.  Ruiz is no intellectual lightweight, he graduated top of the class from UCLA and later earned three advanced degrees at Harvard. Most polls show this to be a tight race.


14th Congressional: In Florida’s 14th Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor faces Republican Evelio Otero Jr.  Otero was born in Puerto Rico and is a retired colonel in the United States Air Force. Castor is heavily favored.

26th Congressional: Florida’s Kendall to Key West 26th Congressional District will see a rematch of Joe García, a Cuban-American attorney, taking on first term Republican Congressman David Rivera. In the 2010 election, García ran a spirited campaign against Rivera, also a Cuban-American, but lost 55% to 45%. The tremendous rivalry between these two contenders burst into the open during the Democratic primary when Rivera accused García of leaving his cancer-stricken wife. The Miami Herald reports that García’s wife in fact divorced him and that she has hosted fund raising events for and donated to her former husband’s Congressional campaign. Congressman Rivera has faced 52 state charges related to a secret dog track contract and campaign finance violations. The Miami Herald reported that some were dropped because they were too difficult for state investigators to prove and the statute of limitations had expired on others. Federal investigators are now looking at Rivera’s finances.  Recent polls show Garcia with a growing edge, but will the aging and conservative Cuban-Americans still see no evil in Rivera.

New Mexico

1st Congressional: New Mexico’s Democratic nominee is  Michelle Luján Grisham in the 1st Congressional District. Luján Grisham has served as a Bernalillo County Commissioner.  She was born in Los Alamos and grew up in Santa Fe. She earned her JD from the University of New Mexico. Her grandfather, Eugene Luján, was the first Hispanic Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.  Under Governor Bruce King, Luján Grisham served as the first Secretary of Aging and Long Term Service. She faces Janice Arnold-Jones as the Republican Party nominee in the Albuquerque-based district. Grisham has a fund-raising advantage over her opponent and is favored to take the seat.


3rd Congressional: Nevada State Assembly Speaker John Oceguera is challenging Republican Congressman Joe Heck in another race that is drawing national attention. Oceguera is capable, accomplished and mounting a serious challenge to Heck. Bill Clinton has recently traveled to Las Vegas to endorse Oceguera in his bid for Congress. Like Clinton, Oceguera was raised by his mother and has overcome challenges not unlike Clinton’s. Oceguera holds Masters in Public Administration and Law degrees from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Polls show Oceguera and Heck locked in a tight race with Heck in front so far.


16th Congressional: Barbara Carrasco, Republican, faces Beto O’Rourke the Democratic nominee, in Texas’ 16th Congressional District for a seat previously held by Silvestre Reyes. Carrasco is a small business owner and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from New Mexico State. O’Rourke defeated  8-term Congressman Reyes in the Democratic Party primary in part with the crossover of 3,500 voters who had previously voted in the Republican primary.  The El Paso Times reported that prominent local supporters of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, such as Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ted Houghton, Texas Tech University Regent Rick Francis and former University of Texas Regent Woody Hunt voted in the Democratic primary; that the largest individual donation to Carrasco came from J.A. Cardwell, who also voted in the Democratic primary; and that the largest number of Republican crossover voters were in Silvestre Reyes’ home precinct and that it was also the precinct with the largest margin for O’Rourke. Those familiar with the dynamics of the contest to date do not fore see a significant drop in support for O’Rourke in the general election. This seat will most likely pass out of Hispanic hands, but not out of touch.

20th Congressional: Texas Democrats nominated Joaquin Castro, a Texas state representative, Stanford University undergraduate, Harvard law school graduate and second generation Mexican-American to fill the 20th Congressional District seat being vacated by longtime Congressman Charlie González. Joaquin Castro is the identical twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and a capable fund raiser and strategist.  Joaquin Castro recently donated $100,000 from his campaign to the Democratic National Committee in support of candidates who need  campaign funding more than he. Among those recipients, Pete Gallego in his race against Quico Canseco in another San Antonio anchored district.  David Rosa will carry the Republican Party banner in this Democratic leaning district. Rosa worked for Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago and with AT&T in New York before moving to San Antonio. He was recently honored as the Texas GOP volunteer of the Year before accepting the party’s Congressional nomination. Joaquin Castro is heavily favored to win.

23rd Congressional: Texas’ 23rd District, running from San Antonio to El Paso, will stay in Hispanic hands.  Freshman  Republican Congressman Quico Canseco is being challenged by State Representative Pete Gallego as the Democratic Party standard bearer. During his tenure in the Texas House, Gallego chaired the 40-plus members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.  He had defeated former Congressman Ciro Rodríguez in the party’s primary run-off election this summer. Gallego has relentlessly re-organized his campaign staff as he seeks to find the right combination of resources to unseat the Republican incumbent this fall. Bill Clinton and Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer have been in San Antonio this past week to lend support to Gallego in the final stretch. A Canseco bickering at the airport boarding gates incident has raised a perception of Canseco as “too important to be touched.”  With Gallego polls showing a volatile and tight race, this is not another pesky pat down for Canseco to endure on his way back to Washington. Gallego is giving Canseco the full body frisk. This is the most seriously competitive House race in Texas and could go either way.

26th Congressional: Democrat David Sánchez is seeking to take the 26th District Congressional seat held by Republican incumbent Michael C. Burgess.  Sánchez has served on City of Denton boards and has been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Denton County and the Tejano Democrats of North Texas. Burgess is an entrenched incumbent.

34th Congressional: Texas Democrats have nominated attorney Filemón Vela in the heavily Hispanic and safely Democratic 34th Congressional District where Brownsville is the largest city. Vela was born in the Valley and studied as an undergraduate at Georgetown University before returning to Texas to earn his law degree at the University of Texas in Austin.  Vela hails from an active and civically engaged family rooted in the Valley— his father served as a Federal District Judge and his mother was elected Mayor of Brownsville. Vela will face Jessica Puente Bradshaw as the Republican Party’s nominee for the Congressional seat. Bradshaw has been endorsed by the Republican Coalition for Life, the Texas Right to Life PAC 100% Certified, and the Texas Home School Coalition PAC, among others. Vela is heavily favored.

27th Congressional: Democrats have nominated Rose Meza Harrison to contest Texas freshman Congressman Blake Farenthold this fall. Frenthold has been embarrassed by the recent arrest of his sister, Sue Farenthold, after police raided her home and found controlled substances, guns and at least one known gang member at the residence. Harrison has served as the Democratic Party Chair of Nueces County and as an assistant county attorney. Both Congresswomen Loretta Sánchez and Linda Sánchez of California and a host of labor unions have endorsed Harrison’s bid to represent the 27th District. The district was drawn to favor Republican voters and will be a tough race for Harrison to win.


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