When Marco Rubio returned to Washington after a failed presidential bid, he had a surprising announcement for the waiting media. Seemingly disenchanted with dirty politics, the 45 year old Cuban-American said he would fill out his term in the U.S. Senate and return to normal life as a private citizen.
The rocky campaign didn’t produce many positive moments for Rubio. It was more of a learning experience. He was repeatedly called “Little Marco” by Donald Trump, and an attempt to trade insults with Trump backfired and embarrassed his family. Ironically, Michelle Obama recently commented on The Donald by saying, “when they go low, we go high.” The advise was meant for Hillary Clinton, but Rubio is a devout Catholic and smart enough to know that such strategy would become an error in judgement.
The fact is that none of us are robots void of making mistakes, so I give Rubio a “mulligan,” to use a classic golfing analogy. Marco has grown and now understands that Tea Party folks don’t represent a changing America. He’s always been a champion for the middle-class because he’s one of us. That’s why I was excited when this articulate Latino leader had a change of heart, deciding to run for re-election as Florida’s “junior” but most notable senator. HispanicHorizons.com is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. However, we will always support mainstream Latinos like Rubio who hold powerful positions in our government. To do otherwise would be counterproductive in building momentum for the overall Hispanic movement in the future. And Rubio managed to march to victory in a hard-fought battle against Patrick Murphy, taking the nod by a solid margin of 52-44. In fact, he out-performed Trump, who took Florida in the presidential race by a mere one percent.
The race for the highest office in the land was probably the nastiest campaign in history. The choices were less than thrilling. Do we elect Hillary, the establishment candidate with tons of baggage? Or will it be Trump, the “stalker” who knows little about the real world? The good news is that Clinton is 69 and Trump is 70, so it’s probable that both candidates would be one term occupants of the White House. Sadly, Bernie Sanders will no longer get that opportunity. Yet, the senator from Vermont ironically started a youth movement in politics that will only continue to grow. For the first time in many years, young people want to get involved.
What has surfaced is a new era of Latinos ready to make a difference. Here is a short list of prominent Hispanics, besides Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are primed to shine:
Ralph Alvarado, R-Kentucky
The lone keynote Latino speaker at the Republican National Convention, Alvarado is a physician and first term senator from a state not known for Hispanic public figures. To be sure, the 46 year old San Francisco native is a bit of a political enigma. But Alvarado is his own man, pro life and small business with a centralist platform. With family roots from Argentina and Costa Rica, Alvarado is surprisingly popular in Kentucky and yes, he’s a bourbon-drinker.
Julian Castro, D-Texas
Currently the HUD Secretary in the Obama cabinet, Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio and so well respected, he is often called the “Latino Messiah.” A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, the 42 year old Castro is an avid tennis player who once served as a White House intern in the Bill Clinton Administration, and many insiders were surprised that he wasn’t selected as Hillary’s running mate. Castro has a twin brother, Joaquin, who is a member of Congress and Chief Deputy Minority Whip. Both men say got into politics because of their influential mother, Rosie Castro, a Chicana activist instrumental in forming La Raza Unida, a Chicano political party.
Jorge Elorza, D-Rhode Island
An attorney and college professor, Elorza is a guy who likes to shake things up. Only 39, Elorza is the mayor of Providence, one of America’s oldest cities that is reeling from a huge financial deficit. In only a year, the political novice has trimmed plenty of fat and streamlined government operations, although stepping on a few toes along the way. Elorza has also been tough on crime in the capital, from robberies to prostitution rings. And in a city where citizens are approaching 30% Hispanic, he has become the “people’s mayor.” The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Elorza tackles every aspect of his job with a ton of energy, then blows off steam by taking long rides as an avid cyclist.
Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Washington
Jaime was born a California girl in Glendale, but grew up in in southwest Washington and graduated with a degree in communications from the University of Washington. Just 37, she is the first Latina to serve her state in the House of Representatives, where she is in her second D.C. term. Once listed as Time Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40,” Herrera Beutler generally votes along conservative lines but has defeated Tea Party candidates in the past. And in her second stint on Capital Hill, Jaime understands the importance of reaching across the aisle to get things done. She’s known as a fighter, just like her young daughter who was born with Potter’s Syndrome and beat the odds to survive.
Clearly there are other qualified Hispanic leaders who deserve recognition, and this site will cover them in the coming weeks. The point that must be understood is that no matter how badly the 2016 election reeks of filth, lies and highly questionable behavior, go out and vote anyway. It’s your civic duty and rest assured, it’s going to get a lot better in four more years.