ER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus

ER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Raul RuizRaul RuizOvernight Energy: Biden faces calls to shut down Dakota Access pipeline | Hackers breach, attempt to poison Florida city's water supply | Daines seeks to block Haaland confirmation to Interior Biden faces calls to shut down Dakota Access pipeline The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE (D-Calif.) will succeed Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroWhy paid internships matter for foreign policy careers State Department establishes chief officer in charge of diversity Texas governor faces criticism over handling of winter storm fallout MORE (D-Texas) next month as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

Ruiz, the son of California farmworkers who went on to attend Harvard Medical School and become an emergency room physician, defeated Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarBill introduced to create RBG monument on Capitol Hill El Paso shooting survivor deported to Mexico after traffic stop House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump MORE (D-Texas) in Tuesday’s closed-door election for the top CHC post. The vote was 24-13, members said. 

Ruiz's election comes as Hispanics have been hit disproportionately hard by the coronavirus pandemic.


“Hispanics make up the largest minority population in the United States. For too long, they have experienced systemic inequalities and disparities in health, health care access, education, economic opportunity, housing, environmental justice, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified those disparities with Hispanics having one of the highest rates of infections and deaths from COVID-19," Ruiz said in a statement. 

“We must come together as a nation to rectify these inequalities; safely, rapidly and equitably end the pandemic; and build back better. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus members are amongst the most talented and respected leaders in Congress, and my goal is to amplify their collective expertise and strengths to expand our influence and ensure the promise of America is accessible to the 60 million Hispanics living in this great nation today."

Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) also had been running for CHC chairman, but she quietly exited the race and on Tuesday secured the No. 2 spot at CHC, first vice chair.  

Others joining the CHC leadership for the 117th Congress are Rep. Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralLawmakers remember actress Cicely Tyson Over 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (D-N.Y.), second vice chair; Rep. Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoDemocrats offer bill on Puerto Rico statehood Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC Puerto Rico governor: Congress 'morally obligated' to act on statehood vote MORE (D-Fla.), whip; and Rep.-elect Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), who will serve as freshman representative.

The first vice chair for the 116th Congress, Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoProgressives fume over Senate setbacks More than 0K raised for Ohio mom arrested for leaving kids alone at motel to work GoFundMe set up for mother arrested after leaving kids alone while at work MORE (D-Ariz.), was well positioned to run for CHC chair, but opted instead to become chairman of the CHC’s campaign arm, Bold PAC, which will give him the opportunity to travel the country, network with donors and campaign for colleagues. 


Since his election to the House in 2012, Ruiz has been hailed as a hero on Capitol Hill and beyond for assisting multiple passengers who had fallen ill on flights that Ruiz had been on while making his weekly commutes between California and Washington. In 2013, both Ruiz and then-Rep. Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch GOP candidate scores upset win in Texas state Senate runoff MORE (D-Texas), resuscitated a passenger on their flight. 

Those positive news headlines, plus backing from members of his large California delegation, likely helped boost Ruiz in his victory over Escobar, a former El Paso judge who has been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. She congratulated Ruiz after the election.

"I'm looking forward to working with him and the new CHC leadership team to uplift and advocate for Latino families and values," Escobar tweeted.


Updated at 1:24 p.m.