There has been a lot of talk in the last couple of weeks about who the Republican front runner will pick for his running mate. The word on the street is that it might be a Latino. It makes sense. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. and they could easily swing the election for whoever captures their vote. Republicans are having trouble appealing to Latino voters that aren’t Cuban or Puerto Rican because of their anti-immigration stance. Just having a Latino on the ballot is unlikely to persuade most Latinos to vote for them, anymore than having Sarah Palin on the 2008 ticket captured women voters. Still, it’s the closest we’ve ever come to the big chair. Now that we’ve had an African-American in the White House it seems like a real possibility that a Latino could become president. But who will it be? Here are 5 politicians that could be the first Latino president.
The young Cuban-American senator is the name you hear most as a possible VP nominee in 2012. He’s popular, young, a social conservative, and is sure to capture the hard line Cuban vote in South Florida. The irony is that even though most Latinos vote Democrat, it’s a very real possibility that the first Latino president could be a Republican. The reason is simple: Cubans have a lot of money and a lot of power. The exiles that left Cuba in the 1960’s amassed huge fortunes in Florida and are incredibly powerful. Why do you think no president of either party ever talks about lifting the embargo against Cuba? Because historically the Cubans control Florida, which you need to become president. Rubio is a product of a 50 year old political machine that could just land him in the White House.
On the Democrat side is Antonio Villaraigosa, who is the Latino mayor of Los Angeles. He was just named chairman of the Democratic National Convention. This is no accident. The Democrats are panicked that they might lose the Latino vote. A lot of Latinos are disappointed in how the Obama administration has dealt with the whole immigration debate. That the mayor of the 2nd largest city in the country is a Latino is a huge deal. There has been some talk that he might run in 2016 if all goes well at the convention.
Becerra is one of the young bucks of the Democratic party and has very quickly worked his way into the power elite in the House of Representatives. Becerra is from California as well and could easily command the Latino immigrant vote. He’s also seen as a clean politician with few skeletons in his closet. Like most of the people on this list, he’s young and relatively unknown nationwide. But who knows what can happen in four years? Hardly anyone knew Barack Obama in 2003.
Luis Fortuno is the governor of Puerto Rico and is an interesting possibility. Puerto Ricans are American citizens but they do not vote in the presidential election. However, they do participate in the presidential primaries and the Republican nominees are trying to get their 23 delegates. Fortuno has been at the center of it, showing that he has some serious ambition. Though his constituents in P.R. couldn’t vote for him as president, the ginormous Puerto Rican population in New York and Florida could. The only question is whether he qualifies as he was technically not born in the United States but in an American protectorate.
Governors usually have better luck running for president than senators which is in New Mexico governor Susana Martinez’s favor. Susana became the first Latino governor last year. She isn’t very well known, which is OK this far out. Hardly anyone knew who Bill Clinton was in 1991. The problem with Martinez is that she is a controversial figure with both her own Republican party and the Democrats. She admitted that her grandparents came over as undocumented, which inflamed conservatives. On the other hand, she’s worked to remove a program that allows undocumented workers the ability to obtain driver’s licenses. She needs to figure out where she stands if she’s going to run.