Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.


Hispanics Celebrate An Impressive 2002 Election Performance

November 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All rights reserved. 

As the Herald goes to press this week, politicians in The Nation’s Capital and each of the fifty State Houses are still divining the message given them by the voters on November 5th. Equally attentive are the hundreds of individuals and organizations affected by legislative initiatives and regulations. Nuances in that message might take a while in some areas but one national trend should be crystal clear. Hispanic America is a growing force on the national political scene.

Last Tuesday, voters returned all Hispanic incumbents to the U.S. House of Representatives and added four new Members to their number. A Hispanic Governor was elected in New Mexico and, in California, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Cruz Bustamante, was reelected. Additionally, an unprecedented number of Hispanic candidates appeared on ballots, in many cases running against another Latino. Even those who lost races gained experience in their political careers. Many will be showing up for seats in subsequent elections. Although final tabulations were unavailable at press time, it is clear that the number of Hispanics winning seats in Federal, State, County and Municipal elections will expand the number from its present estimate of 5,400, nationwide, excluding officeholders in Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories.

The following is a description of key Hispanic races at the federal and state level. A chart with specific results appears at the end of the article.


The Northeast returned to Washington New York’s two incumbent Puerto Rican House Members, both Democrats, Nydia Velazquez of the 12th District who defeated Cesar Estevez, and Jose Serrano of the 16th District who crushed Frank Dellavalle. Across the Hudson in New Jersey’s 13th District, Bob Menendez, an incumbent, overwhelmed his two opponents and will be returning to Capitol Hill for another term. In Connecticut, Republican Chris Shays, an 8-term incumbent, trounced the only Hispanic contender for a house seat, Stephanie Sanchez, a Democrat and Stamford resident. Massachusetts computer consultant and Republican, Luiz "Lou" Gonzaga, took a shot at upending William Delahunt the Democratic seat holder of the 10th District, but could only garner 31% 0f the vote.


The Midwest was less fertile ground for Hispanic candidates, with only Luis Gutierrez, an incumbent Puerto Rican from Chicago, Illinois and a Democrat, clobbering his Republican challenger, Tony Lopez-Cisneros. In Indiana, Republican challenger Mark Leyva fared poorly against incumbent Peter Visclosky, as did Democrat Carlos Nolla, an attorney, in his attempt to replace Kansas incumbent Republican Todd Tiahrt. Ed Oliveros, an Ohio Republican lost 3 votes to 1 to an incumbent Democrat, Sherrod Brown in that state’s 13th District race.


Florida voters returned its two incumbent Members of the House of Representatives to Washington, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Additionally, they added another to the state’s Congressional delegation by sending Mario Diaz-Balart northward, after defeating another Hispanic, Annie Betancourt, in a newly created District. Lincoln and Mario are brothers. All three are Republicans and Cuban Americans.

Puerto Ricans were active in the quest for Florida elected office at both the national and state levels. Eddie Diaz, a former local police hero was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat the incumbent, Ric Keller, in Central Florida’s 8th Congressional District. Diaz had been a registered Republican but switched to carry the Democratic banner for the race. In a State Senate race for a newly formed district near Kissimmee, Florida, Anthony Suarez, a Puerto Rican originally from New York City, took the opposite course and switched his party affiliation to Republican as he locked horns with Gary Sipin, an African American. Previously, both men had been members of the State House. Sipin won the seat on a tight race. In a contest for Florida’s House District 49, wherein the electorate is some 40% Hispanic, a Puerto Rican prevailed in a race with another Hispanic. John Quiñones, a Republican, bested Jose Fernandez, of Nicaraguan background, with 54% of the vote. Much of the debating and media buys were in the Spanish language.

In Texas, Mexican Americans were prominent in the race for Governor and for nine seats for the House of Representatives. The six incumbent Members of Congress were all returned to their Washington offices, with those of Democrats Ruben Hinojosa, Silvestre Reyes and Charlie Gonzalez uncontested. The race for the seat in the 23rd District, however, was a cliffhanger, with incumbent Henry Bonilla unsure of his victory until many hours after the election. He finally prevailed with 50% of the vote to 48% for Democrat Henry Cuellar, a former state representative and Secretary of the State of Texas. Several other candidates garnered the remainder. Solomon Ortiz the incumbent 27th District Congressman faced a Republican challenge from Pat Ahumada, the former Mayor of Brownsville but won handily with 61% of the vote. In the 28th District, incumbent Ciro Rodriguez (D) prevailed over attorney Gabriel Perales Jr. (R) with a 75% advantage.

It was the Governor’s race, however, that riveted the attention of Texas Hispanics, with the possibility that one of their own would become the state’s first U.S. Governor. Interim Governor, Rick Perry (R), faced oilman and entrepreneur Tony Sanchez, a multi-millionaire Mexican American who dented his bank account to win a hard fought Democratic Primary and conduct the campaign against the man that replaced former Governor George W. Bush when he won the U.S. Presidency. In the end, his lucre was insufficient and Governor Perry stayed in office with a vote of 58%


New Mexico was destined to have an Hispanic Governor for the next term, the only pre-election question was if it was to be Republican Businessman and State Representative John Sanchez or Democrat Bill Richardson, a Mexican American former Congressman and Clinton Administration appointee. In what was predicted to be a close race, Richardson prevailed with 56% of the vote. In a contest for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Pete Domenici found himself running against Gloria Tristani, the granddaughter of the late U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez, who represented New Mexico in the United States Congress from 1931 to 1962. Tristani was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and also points to Cuban and New Mexican ancestry. Her pedigree however was not enough to bring down the popular Republican incumbent. The 1st District race for the House featured another Hispanic, Richard Romero, who came up 14% short against Republican incumbent, Heather Wilson.

In Nevada, Clark County Commissioner, Dario Herrera, a Democrat could not overcome the incumbent 3rd District Congressman, Jon Porter.

In Arizona, incumbent Hispanic Ed Pastor faced no serious opposition in his campaign to repeat as Representative of the state’s 4th District. The big gain for Hispanics was the victory of Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, in Arizona’s newly created 7th District in the Tucson area. Businessman George Cordova, a Democrat, lost in a very close race to Republican Rick Renzi, and Democrat high school teacher, Randy Camacho, was overwhelmed by Republican Trent Franks.


In all, 16 Hispanics stood for election to California seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, with some running against each other. The only Puerto Rican in the group, Luis Vega, a teacher and journalist, went up against a powerful Democratic incumbent, Xavier Becerra and could only muster 19% of the vote. The 31st District in which they competed is heavily Mexican American.

California increased by two its Hispanic representation in the House making the total now 8 seats, all Democrats. The six incumbents were all elected as was newcomer, labor official Linda Sanchez, who won big in the newly formed 39th district and joining her sister, Loretta Sanchez who will be returning to Congress for a forth term. In the 18th District, also newly formed, Dennis Cardoza, a member of the State Assembly won a close race against Republican Dick Montieth and several minor candidates. Others won their races impressively, with margins of victory ranging between 61% and 74%. Completing the California Hispanic House delegation are, Hilda Solis, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Juanita Millender-McDonald, Grace Napolitano and Joe Baca.


Most Hispanics elected to office in 2002 were Democrats, continuing a national trend, but one that could change as Republicans and other political parties make the effort to extract candidates from this burgeoning U.S. population and then craft policies that resonate among Hispanic voters.

In the best tradition of American politics, the winners today are crowing and the losers are spinning, but everyone is looking ahead to 2004.

So are the Hispanics!


U.S. House of Representatives

1st District

Rick Renzi (R) 49%
George Cordova (D) 46%
Ed Porr (L) 5%

2nd District

Trent Franks (R) 59%
Randy Camacho (D) 38%
Edward Carlson (L) 4%

4th District

Ed Pastor (D) 67%
Jonathan Barnert (R) 28%
Amy Gibbons (L) 5%

7th District

Raul Grijalva (D) 59%
Ross Hieb (R) 37%
John Nemeth (L) 4%


U.S. House of Representatives

18th District

Dennis Cardoza (D) 52%
Dick Montieth (R) 43%
Others 5%

22nd District

Bill Thomas (R) I 73%
Jaime Corvera (D) 24%
D. Frank Coates (L) 3%

28th District

Howard Berman (D) I 71%
David Hernandez Jr. (R) 23%

31st District

Xavier Becerra (D) I 81%
Luis Vega (R) 19%

32nd District

Hilda Solis I 69%
Emma Fischbeck (R) 27%

34th District

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) I 74%
Wayne Miller (R) 26%

37th District

Juanita Millender-McDonald (D) I 73%
Oscar Velasco (R) 23%

38th District

Grace Napolitano (D) I 71%
Alex Burrola (R) 26%

39th District

Tim Escobar (R) 41%
Linda Sanchez (D) 55%

40th District

Ed Royce (R) I 67%
Christina Avalos (D) 30%

43rd District

Joe Baca (D) I 67%
Wendy Neighbor (R) 30%

47th District

Loretta Sanchez (D) I 61%
Jeff Chavez (R) 35%

51st District

Bob Filner (D) I 58%
Maria Guadalupe Garcia (R) 39%


U.S. House of Representatives

4th District

Chris Shays (R) I 64%
Stephanie Sanchez (D) 36%


U.S. House of Representatives

8th District

Ric Keller (R)I 65%
Eddie Diaz (D) 35%

18th District

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) I 68%
Ray Chote (D) 30%
Orin Opperman (NPA) 2%

21st District

Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) I Unopposed

22nd District

Clay Shaw (R) I 60%
Carol Roberts (D) 39%
Juan Xuna (NPA) 1%

25th District

Mario Diaz-Balart 65%
Annie Betancourt 35%

Florida State Senate

District 19

Gary Sipin (D) 51%
Anthony Suarez (R) 47%
Beulah Farquharson 2%

Florida State House

John Quiñones (R) 54%
Jose Fernandez (D) 46%


U.S. House of Representatives

4th District

Luis Gutierrez (D) 80%
Tony Lopez-Cisneros (R) 15%
Other 5%


U.S. House of Representatives

1st District

Peter Visclosky (D) 67%
Mark Leyva (R) 31%
Timothy Brennan — Carpenter 2%


4th District

Todd Tiahrt (R) I 61%
Carlos Nolla (D) Attorney 37%
Maike Warren (L) 2%


U.S. House of Representatives

10th District

William Delahunt (D) I 69%
Luiz "Lou" Gonzaga (R) 31%


U.S. House of Representatives

3rd District

Jon Porter (R) 56%
Dario Herrera (D) 37%
Neil Scott (L) 2%
Pete O’Neil (I) 4%
Dick O’Dell (IAP) 1%


U.S. House of Representatives

13th District

Bob Menendez (D) I 78%
James Geron (R) 18%
Other 4%



Bill Richardson (D) 56%
John Sanchez (R) 39%
David Bacon 5%
Russell Means 0%

U.S. Senate

Pete Domenici (R) I 65%
Gloria Tristani (D) 35%

U.S. House of Representatives

1st District

Heather Wilson (R) I 57%
Richard Romero (D) 43%


U.S. House of Representatives

12th District

Nydia Velazquez 95%
Cesar Estevez (C) 5%

16th District

Jose Serrano (D) I 92%
Frank Dellavalle (R/C) 8%


U.S. House of Representatives

13th District

Sherrod Brown 69%
Ed Oliveros 31%



Rick Perry (R) I 58%
Tony Sanchez 40%
Rahul Mahajan (Green) 1%
Jeff Daiell (L) 1%

U.S. House of Representatives

3rd District

Sam Johnson (R) 74%
Manny Molera (D) 24%
John Davis (Libertarian) 2%

6th District

Joe Barton (R) I 70%
Felix Alvarado (D) 28%
Others 2%

15th District

Ruben Hinojosa (D) I Uncontested

16th District

Silvestre Reyes (D) I Uncontested

20th District

Charlie Gonzalez (D) I Uncontested

23rd District

Henry Bonilla (R) I 50%
Henry Cuellar (D) 48%
Others 2%

24th District

Martin Frost (D) I 65%
Mike Rivera Ortega (R) 34%
Others 1%

27th District

Solomon Ortiz(D) I 61%
Pat Ahumada (R) 36%
Others 3%

28th District

Ciro Rodriguez(D) I 73%
Gabriel Perales Jr. (R) 25%
Others 2%

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback