Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two Latinas might make history in Texas

The big news story out of the Texas primary: The state is virtually certain to send its first two Latinas to the U.S. House of Representatives. Experts say their victories could be used to help boost fellow Democrats in some of the state’s most competitive races.

Sylvia Garcia, a Texas state senator and Veronica Escobar, a former county judge in El Paso, Texas, won their House primaries in heavily Democratic and Latino districts, making their election in November almost a done deal.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who made history as the first woman, first Californian and first Italian-American to serve as U.S. House speaker, took note of their wins and praised them as “two strong Latinas.” There had been some fears that crowded primaries and better financed opponents might keep them from winning, but Escobar won with 61.4 percent of the vote and Garcia with 63.2 percent.

Mayra Macias, political director for Latino Victory Fund, which works to get Latino Democrats elected to public office, said the elections of Garcia and Escobar could be leveraged strategically by Democrats to win November’s U.S. Senate race between Democrat Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz

Texas is still a very red state and more than a third of Texas Latinos have generally voted Republican over the past couple of decades.

Matt Barreto, co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions, said his initial analysis of voting data by county shows the Democratic surge was not driven by a single group, but the results from Tuesday spell opportunity for Latino candidates and voters.

If Valdez wins, Texans will have a “very Latino friendly candidate in Beto O’Rourke, and that could be a lot of opportunity for Latinos to make their voices heard,” Barreto said, “but it takes investment by the parties and the candidates” in Latino voters.

NBC News

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