Latino Opportunities in State Legislatures

Latino Opportunities in State Legislatures

Publicado el 23 de octubre de 2012
por NALEO Educational Fund en NALEO Educational Fund? en
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In Election 2012, Latinos will continue their progress as elected leaders of their communities by seeking positions in state legislatures across the country.  Latino candidates are demonstrating that they can successfully pursue seats in state houses nationwide, where some of the most important decisions are made about the policies that affect the lives of all Americans.  These elections are the first since the 2010 Census and the 2011-2012 redistrictings, and will provide an opportunity to assess whether the process helped the Latino community achieve fairer representation in the political process. Latinos are running for state legislative offices in 39 of the nation’s states.  

Of the 373 Latino state legislative candidates identified for this report, 265 (71%) are running in states which are the traditional Latino population centers (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas).  More than one-fourth of the candidates (108 or 29%) are running in other states, a sign that Latinos are mobilizing for enhanced electoral opportunities in regions with emerging Latino communities such as the Plains States, the Midwest, and the Deep South.  

 Latinos in State Senates:  After the 2012 general election, the number of Latinos in State Senates could increase by as many as 10, from 67 to 77. Latinos in state lower houses:  After the 2012 general election, the number of Latinos in state lower houses could increase by as many as 27, from 190 to 217.    The outcome of the 2012 state legislative elections may also provide some insights into the impact of certain political and policy trends on Latino representation.  The election results will help reveal the extent to which Latino candidates were able to prevail in districts created during the 2011-2012 redistrictings to provide the Latino community with enhanced electoral opportunities.

 In California, as a result of a ballot measure which established the state’s “top two” primary system, candidates of the same political party are facing each other in the general election in some districts, and the outcome may help inform the public dialogue about the impact of this syatem on Latino candidates – a dialogue which is also occurring in the 2012 election season as Arizona voters decide whether to adopt a similar ballot measure.  Additionally, in Election 2010, the partisan composition of Latino state legislators reflected the wave of Republican victories in some states.  After that election,  there was a net increase of six Latino Republicans in lower state houses, and that increase offset the net decline in the number of Latino Democrats, which prevented an overall decline in Latino state lower house representation.  Political observers will be watching the results of Election 2012 to gauge the impact of national and state partisan trends on the composition of Latino state legislative delegations.  

This Election Profile includes a state-by-state description of the key state legislative races involving Latino candidates (an analysis of the growing number of Latinos running for local offices, such as county, municipal and school board seats is beyond the scope of the Profile).  On pages 14-16, the Profile sets forth tables which include the number of Latino candidates for state legislative offices, and potential Latino electoral gains for each state.

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