Latinos on their way to historic moving into statehouses

Elizabeth Velasco stands on a snowy street in downtown Aspen, Colorado.

Elizabeth Velasco in Aspen, Colo. Photo: Courtesy of Velasco’s campaign.

With intermediate results Latino candidates — mostly Democrats — are expected to make record gains in state legislatures across the US, including Iowa and Vermont, where census data shows the Latino population has been booming since 2010.

Why it matters: As of at least 2018, Latinos have been the fastest-growing eligible voter group, according to the Pew Research Center.

Using the numbers: So far, 64 new Latino Democrats and 15 new Latino Republicans have won state legislature seats, Kenneth Romero-Cruz, the executive director of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, told Axios.

  • There are still some races to go, but this could push the number of Hispanic lawmakers to over 500, which would be a record.
  • At least nine new Hispanic LGBTQ+ contestants were elected to the parliaments of seven states: Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
  • Alicia Kozlowski, an American of Mexico and Ojibwe, made history as the first non-binary person elected to the Minnesota legislature.

Zoom in: Of the 451 Hispanic state lawmakers in office ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, 87% were Democrats and 13% Republicans, Romero-Cruz said.

  • That’s a significant drop for Republicans from 2002, when about 30% of Hispanic lawmakers were GOP members, Romero-Cruz said.
  • “This further counters the false narrative of Republican gains in the Hispanic community. Latinos are overwhelmingly voting more and more Latinos to run on the Democratic ticket,” said Kenneth Romero-Cruz.

Between the lines: Several Hispanic candidates elected to the US House of Representatives have previously served in their state legislatures, showing how such positions are stepping stones toward greater office.

The Intrigue: The midterms also showed how diverse Latinos are.

  • Adam Zabner, Venezuelan-American, became the second Hispanic elected to the Legislature in Iowa history.
  • Latinos of Colombian, Salvadoran, Honduran, Cuban, and Nicaraguan backgrounds were also elected across the country.

What you say: “We need to start talking to Hispanic voters now — not a few months before the election,” newly elected GOP state congressman Rey Martinez of Georgia told Axios Atlanta’s Emma Hurt.

  • Martinez becomes the sole Latino member of the Georgia State House Republican caucus. There will be two on the Democratic side when sworn in.

Remarkable: democrat Elizabeth Velasco, a Mexican-American firefighter near Aspen, Colorado, won a seat in the Colorado State House. She lives in the heart of the district represented by conservative arsonist US Rep. Lauren Boebert.

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