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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.

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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 Three years later, father of Parkland shooting victim calls for meaningful school safety reform House GOP campaign arm rolls out new leadership team 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.

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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 HurdSunday shows - COVID-19 dominates as grim milestone approaches Former Texas GOP rep: Trump should hold very little or no role in Republican Party Former Rep. Will Hurd announces book deal MORE (R-Texas).

The incoming Republican Hispanics will join Diaz-Balart, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerRiot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call Congressional Democrats say Trump acquittal was foregone conclusion Sunday shows - Trump acquittal in second impeachment trial reverberates MORE, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, Ohio Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB Republicans rally to keep Cheney in power Here are the GOP lawmakers censured by Republicans for impeaching Trump MORE, California Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesNunes lawsuit against CNN thrown out Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variants spread in US; Redditors shake Wall Street with Gamestop stock GOP group launches billboard campaign urging Cruz, Hawley to resign MORE, West Virginia Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyRepublicans block 25th Amendment resolution to oust Trump House to vote on impeaching Trump Wednesday READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE, Florida Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastTapper battles GOP lawmakers over criticism of Afghan vet's Electoral College vote Republican war veteran gives Guard troops a tour of the Capitol LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to impeach Trump after Capitol insurrection 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 ValadaoDCCC releases Spanish-language ads hitting GOP on QAnon Here are the GOP lawmakers censured by Republicans for impeaching Trump Scars of Capitol attack permeate high-security inauguration 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 BecerraOvernight Health Care: COVID-19 vaccine makers pledge massive supply increase | Biden health nominee faces first Senate test | White House defends reopening of facility for migrant kids Romney presses Becerra on vote against ban on late-term abortions Pressed on school reopening, Becerra says it's a 'local issue' 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-LehtinenBottom line Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members 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 CurbeloHouse GOP lawmaker unexpectedly shakes up Senate trial The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever The Memo: GOP and nation grapple with what comes next 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.”