2020 may be remembered as the year of the Coronavirus pandemic, but one of the historic triumphs of this year is the number of women of color who ran for Congress. A minimum of 267 women of color are major-party candidates for Congress this year, according to a report by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. This year broke the previous record of 179 women of color who ran in 2018.
Currently, Congress is the most diverse it’s ever been with historic wins including that of Puerto Rican Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman elected to Congress. However, while progress is clearly being made women make up only 30 percent of House candidates and 24 percent of Senate candidates this year even though we’re 50 percent of the population. In 2018, there were at least 41 Latinxs in Congress. Here are some of the Latinas who ran and who are still in the running.
Progressive Democrat Jessica Cisneros is a 27-year-old immigration lawyer from San Antonio, Texas who ran against Rep. Henry Cuellar. Though she was a strong and viable candidate she lost in the March primary but not before getting an endorsement from AOC. She ran on a platform of immigration reform, $15 minimum wage, fair trade deals, the green new deal, fixing public schools, women’s rights, fighting gun violence, and medicare for all.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is a political and community organizer and activist who founded Jolt, a civil rights organization that works to increase the Latino voter turnout in Texas. Ramirez, 38, raised over $459,000 in the two months of her campaign without taking any corporate dollars. She ran against incumbent Republican John Cornyn and placed third in the March 3 Democratic primary with 13.2 percent of the vote.
Queer activist Lorena Garcia worked in non-profit in Colorado her entire career when she entered the race, running against incumbent Republican Cory Gardner. Her platform included pay equity for women and people of color, the green new deal, $15 minimum wage, Value Added Tax to make corporations pay their fair share, affordable housing, education, and immigration reform. In early May the Supreme Court ruled she shouldn’t be placed on the ballot because she didn’t have enough signatures. She appealed the decision however on May 8 she announced she had suspended her campaign.
Laura M. Montoya
New Mexico native Laura M. Montoya ran for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional district while serving as Sandoval County Treasurer since 2012. She has worked on legislation that removes tax loopholes, increases the efficiency of tax collections, aided veterans, seniors, and disabled New Mexicans. Montoya worked as a Constituent Services Representative for U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and at the time, she was the youngest Latina working in that capacity in the U.S., managing five counties in Northern New Mexico. She ran against nine other Democrats and one republican. She ran against incumbent Democrat Ben Ray Lujan and lost in the Democratic primary on June 2.
Sema Hernandez is a first-generation, Mexican-American and became the first Latina in Texas history to run for the Democratic nomination in 2018. She worked in healthcare for several years and was the co-chair of the Texas Poor People’s Campaign until she resigned to run for Senate in 2018. She ran on a Democratic socialist platform of single-payer healthcare for all, free college and training for all, legalizing marijuana, fair trade deals, indigenous rights, cessation of militarization, criminal justice reform, and equal pay. She ran against incumbent John Cornyn and lost in the Democratic primary on March 3.
Afro-Latina Candace Valenzuela is running for Texas’s 24th Congressional District, she advanced with 60 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary runoff on July 14. She is the daughter of Mexican-American and African-American parents and backed by Elizabeth Warren. In 2017 she won her first run for School Board of Trustees and worked to expand STEM education, vocational training, and coding academies in district schools. If she wins Nov.3 she’ll become the first Afro-Latina to represent Texas’s 24th.
Michelle De La Isla
Michelle De La Isla has been the mayor of Topeka, Kansas since 2018, she is the city’s first Latina, first single mother, and the second woman to serve as mayor. The 44-year-old was born in New York City and grew up in Puerto Rico and went on to graduate from Wichita State University as a teen mom. Her platform includes policies for affordable healthcare, strengthening public education, a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and increasing trade programs. On August 4, she won the Democratic primary and she’ll face Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner in the Nov. 3 general election.