Paul Kane wrote a must-read story in Thursday's Washington Post on the just-completed Texas primaries, concluding that Hispanic voters aren't taking advantage of their numbers to elect their own to Congress. It's something we noted in last week's magazine, and offers a warning sign for the president's re-election team too, which is reliant on high levels of Hispanic turnout in the November general election to win states like Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.
Tuesday's election results in Texas illustrated why the increase in Hispanic population isn't translating -- at least not yet -- into increased representation. Latino growth fueled the state's overall population growth, allowing the Lone Star State to gain four House seats during reapportionment - the most in the country. Two-thirds of that growth came from the Hispanic population. But while 38 percent of voters are Hispanic, it's likely that only six of the state's 36 House representatives (14 percent) will be Latino in 2013. That would be a lower rate of representation for Hispanics than in the state's current delegation, despite expectations that 2012 would be a watershed year for Hispanic candidates.
In the primary, Hispanic candidates suffered a trifecta of stinging defeats, thanks to low levels of Latino participation in the Democratic primaries. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the influential former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was upset by Beto O'Rourke, an upstart, white former El Paso city councilor. Reyes' loss makes it more likely that the number of Hispanics in the state's delegation will remain at six, counteracting the gain from the newly created TX-34 Gulf Coast seat, where attorney Filemon Vela is the favorite after a strong showing in the initial primary.