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Politico Media Enterprises

Latinos Add State House Seats Nationwide

November 10, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Politico Media Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

LOS ANGELES - In state legislative contests nationwide, Latinos recorded one net loss in state senates but gained eight in lower state houses, according to a post election analysis by NALEO.

"The political progress made by Latinos this November is laying the foundation for opportunities that will emerge in 2002, the first major election after the decennial redistricting," according to NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas.

The greatest gains were made in California, where to number of Latinos in the State Assembly went from 16 to 20. That means one of four state's assembly members is Latino. About one third of California's 31 million residents is of Hispanic heritage.

In New Mexico, Latinos picked up two additional seats in New Mexico. The Arizona and Colorado state houses added one more Latino each.  Also, two states with relatively small Latino populations made gains. Latinos won state house seats in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. New Hampshire elected its first Latino member.

At the federal level, the number of Latinos in Congress remains the same, though there will be one new face in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former State Senator Hilda Solis defeated incumbent Rep. Matthew Martinez in the Democratic primary to win California's 31st Congressional District. After losing in the primary, Martinez quit the Democratic Party and joined the GOP.

Solis faced only token opposition in the general election. Her closest rival, Green Party candidate Krista Lieberg-Wong, won 9 percent of the vote. 

Solis vacated her seat to run for the U.S. House. A special election to fill Solis' seat in the California Senate will be held in early 2001. If a Latino candidate wins that election, as is expected, the number of Latinos in the California State Senate will increase to eight.

NALEO is a non-partisan research and education organization with more than 5,400 member nationwide. 

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