One of the major media narratives regarding Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections was the gain made by the Republican Party. The GOP regained control of the House of Representatives, won several gubernatorial posts and narrowed the Democrats lead in the Senate in part due to the victories of several Latino candidates.
Marco Rubio won in a three-way race for the Florida Senate post vacated by fellow Cuban-American Mel Martinez. He easily defeated Democrat Kendrick Meek and former governor Charlie Crist who ran as an independent after losing the Republican primary to Rubio.
The former Florida state House Speaker strongly allied with the Tea Party movement during the early part of his campaign. Yet tagging him, as a “Tea Party candidate” is a misnomer since after he won the GOP primary Rubio ran on a more moderate platform. He shied away from taking a hard line on immigration and refused to back privatizing Social Security and this probably helped him gain the support from a majority of independent voters according to one exit poll.
Out west, meanwhile, Susana Martinez made history in that she will become New Mexico’s first Latina governor. A former Democrat, Martinez emphasized the needs for local legislators on both sides of the aisle to come and work together in order “to set a new course in New Mexico.” As the AP reported, however, the future successor to Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson will face a major challenge in reconciling “potentially unrealistic campaign promises not to raise taxes while protecting public schools and Medicaid from spending cuts.”
Harry Reid may’ve been one of the few high points for Democrats after holding onto his Senate seat in Nevada (more on that later). But his son, Rory, did not enjoy the same good fortune after losing to Republican Brian Sandoval in the governor’s race. The former federal judge and assemblyman won by double-digits and will thus become Nevada’s first Latino governor.
Much like Martinez, Sandoval’s campaign pledges to veto any tax increase while cutting as little as possible from social services may have to be broken by the time the next state budget is debated.
Several Latino Democrat representatives retained their seats in the House including Silvestre Reyes, Loretta Sanchez, and Raul Grijalva. Their wins were tempered by victories from the likes of Republican Jamie Herrera who will became the first Latino congressman from Washington state and Francisco Canseco who beat 11-year veteran Ciro Rodriguez.
One political pundit on Univision’s electoral coverage last night claimed that Rubio could become a strong national contender and perhaps even “occupy the White House.” While the victories from the likes of Rubio, Sandoval, and Martinez shouldn’t be understated it certainly remains to be seen if yesterday’s electoral shakeup will lead to major political changes for Latinos.
Image- CBS News (Marco Rubio looked pretty darn confident after leaving the polls on Election Day yesterday).
Online Sources- Los Angeles Times, AP, Las Vegas Sun, MSNBC, Chron.com, UPI, Bloomberg, Miami Herald