The 2010 midterm elections were historic for Hispanics. For the first time ever, three Latino candidates won top statewide offices. All of these three Latinos ran as Republicans. The three are Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio, New Mexico governor-elect Susana Martinez, and Nevada governor-elect Brian Sandoval. Prior to this election, there have only been 5 Latino governors and 6 Latino Senators in U.S history.
District Attorney Susana Martinez, age 50, was elected the first Latina governor in U.S. history. She switched parties to the Republican Party in 1995. She favors lower taxes, less spending, and tighter border security. Martinez is pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay marriage. She ran against the “pay to play” allegations that marred the administration of outgoing Democratic governor, Bill Richardson. Martinez comes from a law enforcement family. Her husband, Chuck Franco, has been a law enforcement officer for over 30 years and her father was a deputy sheriff of El Paso County, Texas.
Brian Sandoval, age 47, was elected governor of the state of Nevada. Sandoval is a federal judge who made the unusual move of leaving the lifetime appointed position to enter elected politics. Sandoval is a moderate Republican who is pro-choice on abortion, but supports other conservative positions such as Arizona law SB1070. When asked by Univision reporters if he were concerned that his children would be profiled if they went to Arizona, he responded with a note of pride in his voice, “My children don’t look Hispanic.” Despite this, Sandoval ran an ad on Spanish Television that said “With your help, Brian Sandoval can become the first Hispanic Governor in the history of Nevada.” This man who appears to be of Mexican descent, but doesn’t speak Spanish and is anti-immigrant, apparently convinced enough Latino voters he is like us. Although Latinos were instrumental in Nevada in the re-election of Senator Harry Reid, a good number of them must have supported Sandoval who defeated Senator Reid’s son Rory Reid.
The star of the 2010 Republican class is 39 year old Marco Rubio. He started out as a big underdog to Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the run for the senate seat from Florida. Crist is a moderate Republican who fell out of lockstep with the GOP establishment by supporting President Obama’s stimulus bill. Rubio ran to the right of Crist, against the stimulus, against the health care law, for SB1070, and for lower taxes. He is a charismatic speaker with conservative principals. He is already being touted as the “great right hope” and the “Republican Obama.” He said in his acceptance speech that the election was not an embrace for the Republicans, but a second chance for Republican to be who they said they were. Ariana Huffinton of the Huffington Post tweeted that he looked like “a Central American dictator” during the speech. Her comment may have revealed the fear that the liberal establishment has of this man.
By guest contributor, Greg Martinez.