Latino Political Firsts

With Susana Martinez being elected the first Latina governor in the history of the United States and Brian Sandoval becoming the first Hispanic to win a gubernatorial seat in Nevada, we started thinking about the historical implications of  these election results.

Truth be told, Hispanics have been blazing a trail in United States politics for decades. Here's a look back at Latino political firsts, all the way back to the 19th century.

1. Firsts: Sonia Sotomayor

2. Firsts: Bill Richardson

WHO: Bill Richardson
WHEN: 2008
FIRST LATINO TO: Run for President as a Democrat. Richardson, Mexican, was governor of New Mexico but grew up in New England.

3. Firsts: Alberto Gonzales

WHO: Alberto Gonzales
WHEN: 2005–07
FIRST LATINO TO: Be named U.S. attorney general. The Mexican-American lawyer from Houston served under President George W. Bush.

4. Firsts: Antonia Novello

WHO: Antonia Novello
WHEN: 1990–93
FIRST LATINO TO: Act as the U.S. surgeon general. The Puerto Rican was also the first woman in the post thanks to President George H. Bush.

5. Firsts: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

WHO: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
WHEN: 1989—
FIRST LATINA TO: Be elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. This Republican cubana still represents Florida.

6. Firsts: Lauro Fred Cavazos, Jr.

WHO: Lauro Fred Cavazos, Jr.
WHEN: 1988–90
FIRST LATINO TO: Hold a cabinet position, Secretary of education. A sixth generation Texan of Mexican descent, Cavazos was a Democrat who served under Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr.

7. Firsts: Octaviano Larrazolo

WHO: Octaviano Larrazolo
WHEN: 1928
FIRST LATINO TO: Be elected to the U.S. Senate. This Mexican-American was originally a Democrat, but became a Republican and was the Governor of New Mexico before he was the state’s senator.

8. Firsts: Romualdo Pacheco

WHO: Romualdo Pacheco
FIRST LATINO TO: Be Governor. Pacheco, of Mexican descent, was briefly the Republican governor of California after the incumbent governor was elected to the senate. The first elected governor of a US state was actually Ezequiel Cabeza de Baca, a Democrat who became the governor of New Mexico in 1917.

9. Firsts: Joseph Marion Hernandez

WHO: Joseph Marion Hernández
WHEN: 1822–23
FIRST LATINO TO: Serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hernández, born in the Spanish controlled St. Augustine, was not only the first Hispanic in the House but also Florida’s first representative.

10. Firsts: Related Links