Story at a glance
- A new analysis reveals a potential jump in Latinx representation across state and federal government.
- States like Texas, Arizona and California are seeing the largest number of Latinx candidates.
A number of Latino candidates won election on Tuesday, boosting their representation at the state and federal level.
In New Mexico's Senate race, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D) defeated Republican Mark Ronchetti to win the seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Sen. Tom Udall. Luján is the highest-ranking Latino in the House and will become the fifth Latino senator.
A number of Latino candidates also won election to the House on Tuesday, including New Mexico attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez (D), who defeated Alexis Johnson (R) to fill the 3rd District seat being vacated by Luján.
In New York, Democrat Ritchie Torres became the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress, easily defeating his GOP opponent in the safely Democratic district. Torres is also one of two openly gay Black men elected to Congress.
In Texas, Navy veteran Tony Gonzales (R) defeated Gina Ortiz Jones to win the state’s 23rd District. In another race in the state's 24th District, school board member Candace Valenzuela narrowly trails her GOP opponent Beth Van Duyne (R).
Valenzuela would be the first Afro-Latina member of Congress if she pulled out a win in Texas, though Van Duyne, a former Irving mayor, currently leads by more than 1 percentage point with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
In Florida, former broadcast journalist Maria Elvira Salazar (R) won an upset over incumbent Rep. Donna Shalala (D) in the state's 27th District.
And in Indiana, former state sssemblymember Christina Hale is campaigning to become the state’s first Latina representative. She trails her GOP opponent Victoria Spartz by less than 5 points with 93 percent of precincts reporting.
"We are making progress," Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO), told NBC News.
NALEO released an analysis recently showing Latino candidates were running for office in 36 states, including a dozen running for state Senate across the country. Latino representation in state Houses was also expected to increase this week.
“The emergence of new presidential battleground states with large Latino populations is establishing the community as a chief critical component to an electoral victory, affecting races up and down the ballot,” Vargas said in a statement.