National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15. This annual celebration honors the contributions, rich history, and diverse culture of the Hispanic and Latino community.
Latino representation in politics: Despite the substantial growth of the U.S. Hispanic population over the past decade, political underrepresentation remains a pressing issue, with less than 2% of Latinos in elected positions nationwide. Recognizing this disparity, DSPolitical takes even greater pride in its role during the 2022 election cycle, where we helped power:
- 67 Latino candidates
- 15 Latino candidates elected to the U.S. House
- 2 Latino candidates elected to the U.S. Senate
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve highlighted ten Hispanic-Latino politicians who are paving the way for many others.
10 Influential Hispanic-Latino Leaders
In the 2018 midterm elections, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell achieved a historic victory, becoming the first Ecuadorian-American and South American immigrant elected to Congress. Acknowledging the significance of this achievement, she remarked, “We made history together when I became the first South American immigrant ever elected to Congress.” Now, with a keen eye on the pressing issues facing Florida, Debbie is running for U.S. Senate, where she aims to continue her work on behalf of the people of Florida.
Ruben Gallego’s fearless pursuit of a highly competitive seat serves as an inspiration not only to his constituents but to minorities across the nation. In a bold move, Gallego recently declared his candidacy for the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Arizona. His campaign launch included compelling videos in both English and Spanish, emphasizing his humble roots as the son of an immigrant mother. If successful, he would make history as the first Latino senator in what has evolved into one of the most fiercely competitive states in the nation.
Catherine Cortez Masto
During the 2016 elections, Catherine Cortez Masto, the former state attorney general, claimed a historic victory, becoming the nation’s first Latina senator and Nevada’s first woman to hold a Senate seat. Her election marked a pivotal moment in the state’s political history. Catherine Cortez Masto articulated her vision, stating, “I believe our diversity is our strength. As the first Latina senator, I will leverage my position to champion the cause of diversity.” Last election cycle, DSPolitical served targeted ads to secure votes needed for Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who was narrowly re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
On November 9, 2022, Yadira Caraveo made history by defeating Republican nominee Barbara Kirkmeyer in the general election, becoming Colorado’s first Latina member of Congress. Caraveo will represent the newly drawn 8th Congressional District, north of Denver, which has the largest percentage of Hispanics in the state, at 39%.
Maxwell Alejandro Frost
Maxwell Alejandro Frost, at just 25 years old, became the first member of Gen Z ever elected to Congress after winning his race to represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District last November. In his words, “We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future.”
Sabina Matos is the first Dominican-American elected to statewide office in the United States. Sabina Matos came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic at age 20 without knowing any English. Reflecting on her journey, she said, “I got here, but you don’t see all the people who came before me, who worked very hard to make sure that the Latino community participated in the civic process.”
“One of my main missions is to open the doors so that our young people see that it is possible, that they can achieve it.”
Alex Padilla, a California Democrat, made history by becoming the first Latino ever sworn in to serve a full Senate term from California. As the child of Mexican immigrants, Padilla’s election marks a significant moment in the state’s political landscape, as he represents a demographic group that comprises nearly 40% of California’s population.
Lina Hildago became the first woman and first Latina to hold office as County Judge and set forth with a new, fresh approach to the role and its management of public safety. She has sought to approach public safety with data-driven, results-oriented governing, taking into account all variables that affect a community’s overall safety and well-being. Cinching a successful reelection will enable Lina to continue building on her historic progress for public safety in Harris County.
Robert Garcia’s historic achievement as the first openly gay and first Latino Mayor of Long Beach is a testament to his resilience and dedication. Born in Peru, he immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 5. In his own words, Garcia affirms, “It is about time. The American people deserve a government that works for them, and now I can finally get to work for the people of California.” As the first LGBTQ+ immigrant to serve in Congress, he brings a strong commitment to building an inclusive, resilient, and prosperous community.
First Generation Mexican-American, Air Force Veteran, and 2022 DSPolitical Ad Grant Recipient Erica Dominguez won her race for County Court Judge in Bexar County, Texas. Her dedication to ensuring that our justice system works for everyone is unwavering.
The ten influential Latino leaders listed here have broken barriers in American politics, representing diversity and resilience. The stories of these Latino leaders and many others inspire us to work towards a more inclusive and representative democracy.