House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members

House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members
© Getty Images/Greg Nash/Courtesy of Tony Gonzales for Congress

The House Republican Conference will add four new Hispanic members to its ranks come January, a reflection of the party’s appeal to Latinos in Florida and Texas.

The Congressional Hispanic Conference — the grouping of Hispanic Republicans, as opposed to the nominally bipartisan but functionally Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) — is set to welcome Reps.-elect Carlos Gimenez (Fla.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.) and Tony Gonzales (Texas).

Gimenez, Salazar and Malliotakis are Cuban Americans, Gonzales is Mexican American.


All four won close races against Democrats — incumbents in the case of Gimenez, Salazar and Malliotakis — who were favored to win their elections.

The Florida and Texas districts are majority Hispanic; Malliotakis’s Staten Island district is nearly a fifth Hispanic.

“There’s no doubt we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the representation of minorities, including Hispanics, among Republicans,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBottom line GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors MORE (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Hispanic Conference.

“The question is why?” added Diaz-Balart. “Partly it’s why Latinos in the United States are here … we either come from a socialist country where there’s no liberty, the violence [in Latin America] and a third very important factor is economic opportunity.”

Those messages resonated among Hispanic voters in traditionally conservative communities, like the two South Florida districts that neighbor Diaz-Balart’s district or the large Texas district that Gonzales kept in Republican hands.


Gonzales, a Navy veteran, beat Democrat Gina Ortiz-Jones, an Air Force veteran who was widely seen as a favorite to replace retiring Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas).

The incoming Republican Hispanics will join Diaz-Balart, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerBiden needles GOP touting rescue plan they opposed: 'Some people have no shame' GOP leader's Jan. 6 call to Trump draws scrutiny in commission fight Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, Ohio Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Club for Growth bashes CNN in social media ad Liz Cheney spent K on security in months after Trump impeachment vote MORE, California Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesGOP's Stefanik defends Trump DOJ secret subpoenas CNN reporter's phone and email records secretly obtained by Trump administration: report Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline CEO says company paid hackers .4 million in ransomware attack | Facebook sets up 'special operations center' for content on Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Granholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after MORE, West Virginia Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier Mooney14 Republicans vote against resolution condemning Myanmar military coup Republicans block 25th Amendment resolution to oust Trump House to vote on impeaching Trump Wednesday MORE, Florida Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastHouse GOP fights back against mask, metal detector fines Massie, Greene trash mask violation warnings from House sergeant at arms House rejects GOP effort to roll back chamber's mask mandate MORE and American Samoa Del. Aumua Amata RadewagenAmata (Aumua Amata) Catherine RadewagenHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members GOP women's group releases latest round of House endorsements Pelosi leads congressional delegation to Central America, Mexico border MORE.

Two so-far uncalled California races could add Rep. Mike Garcia and former Rep. David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoProgressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Five takeaways on the House's return to budget earmarks MORE to the list.

The Congressional Hispanic Conference was set up in the late 1990s when disagreements over Cuba policy and the election of then-Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraFeehery: It's for the children New Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Obama joins Biden to tout record ObamaCare enrollment numbers MORE (D-Calif.) to lead the CHC led the Cuban American members to split off from the bipartisan group.

The rescinding Republicans were led by former Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenHigh-speed rail getting last minute push in Congress Bottom line Bottom line MORE and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart’s brother.

Since then, the Hispanic Conference has taken a different tack from its Democratic counterpart, for instance by allowing non-Hispanic Republicans to join.

Republican Hispanics are technically still allowed in the CHC, a provision tested by former Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloCheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women House Democrats call on Republicans to return Marjorie Taylor Greene donation Republicans race for distance from 'America First Caucus' MORE (R-Fla.), who in 2017 accused the group of discrimination after his application to join was rejected by a majority of the members.

Under Mario Diaz-Balart, the Hispanic Conference has mostly had a cordial working relationship with its Democratic counterparts, particularly seeking common ground on immigration reform pushes.

“This growth in Hispanic Republican representation in Congress is very positive for the country,” he said. “It can only help those negotiations.”

But Diaz-Balart said he is ready to pass on the torch of the Hispanic Conference chairmanship.

“Having more Latino Republicans in Congress is a good thing,” he said, “but I’d like for another member to take that position.”