Rare Hispanic Politician Reaches Higher

January 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Hispanics — 58-million strong — are represented at all levels of American society, business, professions, street and homeless populations, criminal gangs, law enforcement, the military and a few in politics.

They are everywhere. They live in big cities, small towns and rural agricultural districts. Wherever they live, they provide manpower and energy that make economies hum, run and produce. They also own and man thousands of restaurants serving Americas favorite food, Mexican food. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/281028/us-households-consumption-of-mexican-food-and-ingredients/)

But few Hispanics are active in government and politics, especially high level politics. Around 6,100 Hispanics hold elected public office in the U.S. according to NALEO, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. The 6,100 include water district and school board members up to and including governors and United States Senators. (http://www.naleo.org/at_a_glance)

The Hispanic vote’s base is 28 million registered Hispanic voters. Other than in New Mexico, the most Hispanic state, however, there are no huge concentrations of Hispanic voters except for a congressional district here and there. Three Hispanics are U.S. Senators and 28 are in the House of Representatives. At the local level, 2,322 serve on boards of education and 1,766n serve as elected municipal officials.

Considering though that it wasn’t too long ago the Mexican American citizens were not permitted to vote, serve on juries or hold government jobs in Texas (Hernandez v. Texas), for example, and Puerto Ricans on the island can’t vote in federal elections (but can on the mainland) the governors of New Mexico (Susana Martinez) and Nevada (Brian Sandoval) are Mexican Americans today. (https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/347us475)

A hundred years ago, New Mexico entered the United States and promptly elected a Mexican American Governor and U.S. Senator. Before that, California had elected Mexican American state legislators, a Mexican American state controller and Lt. Governor (who inherited the Governorship), the first Mexican American congressman who went on to be the first Mexican American – Hispanic – United States ambassador to several foreign countries.

All told, there might be 250 Hispanic state legislators throughout the country; there are Hispanic congress people including three U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and 28 congress people.

Of course, there are some Hispanic Presidentially-appointed cabinet officers in the succession line for President have and are serving with the highest ranking Hispanic government officer ever being President Bush’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, 5th in Presidential succession. Nonetheless, until recent years, few Hispanics have ever jumped off the newspaper front page as a politician of real consequence (Rubio and Governors Sandoval (R-NV) and Martinez (R-New Mexico, have, of course).

A Puerto Rican born, Mormon raised and educated (Brigham Young University) small town immigration lawyer from Idaho (Idaho?) surprised the political world when he defeated a popular candidate for congress in 2010 as a Tea Party supported Republican.

Raul L. Labrador, Esq., is his name.

He surprised the political world again when he announced his candidacy for the Congress’ and Republican Party’s Majority Leader of the House, a job vacated by primary-defeated Eric Cantor. Kevin McCarthy won the job; California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, is perhaps the most popular congressman in the Republican House.

Labrador lost because there is no conservative cabal large enough to beat the Establishment in its own house. For 228 years, Congress— which respects length of service, seniority more than any other institution in the Republic, Congress is spelled E-S-T-A-B-L-I-S-H-M-E-N-T.

Certainly, back-bencher Steve King (R-Iowa) and 39 Southern and other ultra-right congressman (the kind that used to keep Blacks and Hispanics from voting) cabal of Neanderthal congress people will complain and continue to be congressional pests without one of their own in the House leadership, but it won’t matter much.

McCarthy is critical for immigration reform; 30% of his Bakersfield, California district is Mexican American and they have helped elect him to the California state legislature and to Congress.

Labrador has made contributions by being an honest challenger to the Establishment; he did not burn his political bridges when he lost the Majority Leader race. As long as he stays cool and ignores Iowa’s King and his Loony Tunes friends, Hispanic Raul L. Labrador has a future outside Congress; his future is being elected Idaho’s next governor. He is one of the many Republicans in the House that are retiring or running for higher office in this 2018 midterm.

The difference that sets Labrador aside, is he’s Hispanic, a Hispanic Republican with solid conservative credentials.

Labrador stands an excellent chance of being elected. With the departure of term-limited Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the role of role model Hispanic male governor will be filled well by my namesake “Raul” Labrador of Idaho.


Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy, (Berkeley Press 2017) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars In Trade” (Floricanto Press 2016); he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times.

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