Your Vote Matters: The Rise of Latina Candidates in 2014

By Political Parity on October 30, 2014

In the final days before Election Day, Parity staff and allies will write about why the 2014 midterm election matters to us and to women around the country. Check here daily for our reflections and insights on this cycle’s key races.

The 113th Congress includes 99 women, only 30 of whomare racial/ethnic minorities (CAWP). Of those 30, only 9 are Latina. That means Latinas make up a little over one percent of Congress. This election cycle, though, women are poised for significant gains in representation, including record high numbers of racial/ethnic minority women.

Women in 113th U.S. Congress

In the 2012 election, the U.S. House reached an all-time high of 9 Latina Representatives.  All but one of these incumbents are running for re-election next week, which means that there are 17 Latinas trying for House seats. These candidates represent a partisan mix and come from a variety of states, including New Hampshire and Utah (two states that traditionally do not have large Latino populations).

2014 Latina Candidates for Congress (U.S. House)

State U.S. House District Candidate Name & Party Status of Seat
AZ 03 Gabriela Saucedo Mercer (R) Challenger
CA 21 Amanda Renteria (D) Challenger
CA 22 Suzanna Aguilera-Marrero (D) Challenger
CA 32 Grace Napolitano (D) Incumbent
CA 35 Norma Torres (D) Open seat
CA 38 Linda Sanchez (D) Incumbent
CA 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) Incumbent
CA 46 Loretta Sanchez (D) Incumbent
FL 27 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) Incumbent
NV 01 Annette Teijeiro (R) Challenger
NH 02 Marilinda Garcia (R) Challenger
NM 01 Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) Incumbent
NM 02 Roxanne “Rocky” Lara (D) Challenger
NY 07 Nydia Velazquez (D) Incumbent
TX 35 Susan Narvaiz (R) Challenger
UT 02 Luz Robles (D) Challenger
WA 03 Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) Incumbent

There are also several Latina candidates for statewide executive office. Currently, 72 women—only three of whom are Latina—serve in statewide elective executive offices. Only one of these three incumbents is running for re-election. The 2014 statewide races also include an impressive four Latinas running for lieutenant governor (in Florida, Illinois, Nevada, and Texas) and one Latina running for secretary of state of Rhode Island. Despite these increases in candidacy, however, several of these women are trailing behind their opponents in the polls, even though they have attracted national media attention and secured key endorsements.

2014 Latina Candidates for Statewide Executive Office

State Office Candidate Name & Party Status of Seat
NM Governor Susana Martinez (R) Incumbent
FL Lieutenant Governor Annette Taddeo (D) Challenger
IL Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti (R) Challenger
NV Lieutenant Governor Lucy Flores (D) Open seat
TX Lieutenant Governor Leticia Van de Putte (D) Challenger
RI Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) Open seat

The growing number of Latina political candidates amplifies Latina voices at the national level and will encourage more political parties to recruit and support diverse candidates. This is also an opportunity for the parties to engage more female and minority voters: given the dominant narrative of “disenchanted” Latino voters in the media, the rise of these Latina candidates should flip this script and bring voters to the polls on Tuesday. Every vote matters—especially yours.

Christina Bejarano is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas.  She has published two books on Latina politics: The Latina Advantage: Gender, Race, and Political Success (U. of Texas, 2013) and The Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics (Routledge, 2014). Connect with Professor Bejarano on Twitter and join the conversation on Latinas in politics with #LatinasRepresent.