GOP sees slight increase in Hispanic vote, painful candidate losses

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dated: 2022-11-20 12:51:28 .

MIAMI (AP) — Republicans have pinned their hopes on a slate of Hispanic candidates across the country as they try to make gains with Hispanic voters in midterm elections that some predicted would deliver big GOP victories.

The verdict was mixed.

While Republican House candidates made modest gains among Hispanic voters in 2022 compared to 2018, several Hispanic GOP candidates lost in high-profile races.

In all, the House will see a net gain of at least eight Hispanic members, seven of whom are Democrats, according to the National Association of Hispanic Elected and Appointed Officials.

With the additions, the Republican Party will now have 11 Latino House members, while Democrats will have 35, with one race still tied for a Democratic Latino, NALEO said. This will bring the total Hispanic representation in Congress to 11%, less than the 19% Hispanic population in the US.

“It’s obviously not the result that many of us expected, but it’s still hopeful,” said Wadi Gaitan, director of communications for the conservative group Libre Initiative, which mobilizes Latino voters to contribute to the Republican primary. “Inroads Inspires Latinos and Latinas to Seek Office.”

The blows were felt in Texas and Virginia, where the Democratic representative. Abigail Spanberger defeated Republican Yesli Vega, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, in one of the country’s most expensive and competitive races. Vega, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is a former police officer who served as the Republican governor’s running mate. Glenn Youngkin’s Latino Voter Coalition last year.

In South Texas, Democrats retained two of three heavily Hispanic districts that were aggressively attacked by Latino Republican candidates, who described themselves as “spicy tacos” after first lady Jill Biden commented that Latinos are “so unique.” like breakfast tacos in San Antonio. She later apologized for that remark.

The GOP won when Hispanic businesswoman Monica de la Cruz won a redistricting district there. But in a rare race between two sitting members of Congress – both Latino – in a pro-Democratic district, Republican U.S. Rep. Mayra Flores was fired.

Flores, who made history in a special election earlier this year by becoming the first Mexican-born congresswoman, said the heavily Hispanic region has always been conservative, with a focus on faith and family values, which has led to the GOP’s growing influence.

“The future of South Texas is Republican. We didn’t go backwards,” Flores said. “Little by little, we will make a bigger impact.”

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott earned a slightly higher percentage of Hispanic voters in 2022 than four years ago, 42% now versus 35% then, according to AP VoteCast, a comprehensive poll of nearly 3,400 voters in the state.

Dorian Caal, director of civic engagement at NALEO, cautions against making broad assumptions, saying the actual decline in Latino support needs to be analyzed down to the district level, which can take time.

“It really comes down to not taking the Latino choice for granted,” Caal said.

In Florida, Republicans invested heavily, according to AP VoteCast, and the gains were significant. More than half of Latino voters supported the Republican governor. Ron DeSantis and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, compared to less than half of those who supported Trump in 2020. DeSantis has a slightly higher share of Hispanic voters this year than in 2018. He was also the first Republican governor since Jeb Bush in 2002 to win Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county and a county with an influential immigrant population.

Noting the landslide victory in Florida, many analysts said the GOP must replicate the model across the country. While targeting Trump may have hurt candidates in other areas, it helped them in Florida.

Republicans increased their Hispanic representation in the House by adding Anna Pauline Luna, who is of Mexican descent and won the newly elected district. Luna has said she believes Trump won the 2020 election and earlier this year promoted a film that has been discredited, claiming people were paid to travel between mailboxes and use fake ballots during the 2020 presidential election to fill them out.

Another GOP victory became a landmark in Oregon when Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer flipped the district red. She and Democrat Andrea Salinas, who won the second district, will be Oregon’s first Hispanic congressmen.

In Nevada, Democrats retained control of the Senate with the victory of incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto, the first and only Latina in the Senate.

Melissa Morales, founder of Somos PAC, a group that mobilizes Latino voters for Democrats, said Latinos are key to re-electing Cortez Masto. According to AP VoteCast, Cortez Masto won 60% of the Hispanic vote.

“We are not a sleeping giant. We are a strategic giant,” Morales said. “At the end of the day, you can always invest more. We will stand for it.”

Back in South Texas, Democratic U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who defeated Flores, shared the sentiment, saying the party must increase investment in Hispanic communities and prioritize “meat and potatoes” issues that matter to local voters.

“The only way to make more Texas Blue is to collect large amounts of resources,” Gonzalez said.

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Coronado called from Austin, Texas. Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed to this report.

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Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterm elections and follow AP’s 2022 election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

Adriana Gomez Licon and Acacia Coronado, The Associated Press

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