Splinter: “2018 Could Be the Year of the Latinas in Congress”

There are currently a record 309 women running for Congress across the country. And there are also a number of Latinas running for Congress who could make history in their states.

Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar are poised to become the first Texas Latinas to represent the state in Congress. Both are widely expected to defeat their Republican opponents in November, according to the Texas Tribune.

Garcia won her bid for the Democratic nomination in her district despite big names like Sen. Chuck Schumer endorsing her opponent, a male healthcare executive.

When the Tribune asked Garcia about being one of the first Latinas to represent Texas in Congress, she said didn’t really care for the title. “Well, I don’t really ever think about those things,” she told the Tribune. “I never really wanted to be the first. I wanted to be the best.”

Escobar, on the other hand, has spoken publicly about the additional barriers women of color face in elections.

“Timing has to be right for a lot of us. And I think it’s even harder for women of color because fundraising is really such a huge component of running in a congressional race and many of us may have limited networks,” Escobar told the Tribune after she won her primary last month.

In New Mexico, another congressional district with a large Latinx population could go from red to blue if Xochitl Torres Small wins the seat vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce, who is now running for governor.

Primary elections in New Mexico are being held in June but 66% of delegates for the Democratic Party there have already declared their support for Torres Small.

Florida could also see a new Latina in Congress, as Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo is “barely” leading Democrat Debbie Mucase Powell, a first generation Ecuadorian-American candidate.

Every year there are an estimated 803,000 Latinx citizens who turn 18 and become eligible to vote, according to the Pew Research Center. Latinx voter turnout has been consistently low in recent years. But last month, the Texas primary saw a surge in Latinx voters, thanks to Latinas.

“It’s not just that the Hispanic intensity was up, but that intensity was heavily led by Latinas,” James Aldrete, head of MAP Political Communication, which led former Democratic President Barack Obama’s Hispanic media campaign, told Reuters.

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