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Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California

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114th Congress Demographics: Meet the 5 New Latinos in Congress

January 8, 2015
In The News

The new 114th Congress has been regarded as the most ethnically diverse class in its history, with several Latinos in its ranks, but remains heavily dominant by white males.

The latest congressional session, which started on Tuesday, includes 7.8 percent of Latinos in the House of Representatives and 3 percent Hispanics within the Senate. Whites have the majority with 79.8 percent in the House of Representatives and 94 percent in the Senate. The 114th Congress' House of Representatives has more African American politicians than Latinos with 10.1 percent, but only two in the Senate.

The number of Latinos in Congress reached a new high with 33, specifically 30 in the House of Representatives and three senators. The newly-elected Latinos are in the House, including, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. 7th District, Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. 31st District, Norma Torres, D- Calif. 35th District, Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. 26th District and Alex Mooney, R-W. Va. 2nd District.

Here's what you need to know about the newly-elected Latino legislators in the House:

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.:

Poverty was a major issue during Aguilar's congressional campaign, as San Bernardino has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. after Detroit. Aguilar was the youngest member of California's Redlands City Council in 2006, and four years later was elected mayor. While Democrats encountered many defeats to the Republican Party during the midterm election, Aguilar helped secure a gain for the Democrats as he replaced the retiring Republican Rep. Gary Miller.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.:

Curbelo was a member of the Miami-Dade School Board before defeating Democratic incumbent Rep. Joe Garcia. Curbelo had a tough campaign against Garcia. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund called the Curbelo and Garcia election "one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation." Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles, and he does not support President Barack Obama's efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with the island country.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.:

Gallego is the son of Colombian and Mexican immigrants, a fact he stated on social media on the day he was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives. Gallego served four years in Arizona's House of Representatives. During his time in Arizona, he became the assistant minority leader. He is a Harvard graduate and Iraq War veteran.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-Va.:

Mooney, the son of a Cuban mother and a Vietnam War veteran father of Irish descent, has the distinction of being West Virginia's first Latino U.S. representative. Mooney was the youngest member to serve on Maryland's State Senate, elected in 1998. From 1999 to 2010, Mooney claimed to have "consistently fought" for conservative fiscal and social values, and he plans to continue the effort in Congress. Mooney has been selected to serve in the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Budget Committee for the new Congress.

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif.:

After five years in California's State Senate, Torres won her congressional seat that was vacated by Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Born in Guatemala, Torres immigrated to the U.S. when she was five years old as a result of conflicts in the Central American country. Torres' previous occupation was a 911 emergency dispatcher before starting her political career as a member on the Pomona City Council. Torres would later serve as mayor of Pomona.