EMILY’s List correct that Texas hasn’t elected a Latina to Congress

The state is home to more than 5 million Latinas


EMILY’s List, the national Democratic group that backs “pro-choice” women running for office, endorsed former Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chairwoman Dolly Elizondo in that party’s crowded primary field to represent Texas’ 15th Congressional District.

The group’s president, Stephanie Schriock, further suggested a touch of history in Elizondo’s bid to succeed retiring Rep. Rubén Hinojosa of Mercedes, according to a Feb. 1 Texas Tribune news story. “Texas is home to millions of Latinas,” Schriock said, “but the state has never elected a Latina to Congress.”

Are both ends of her statement accurate?

To get a sense of Latina Texans, we reached out to the Texas state demographer’s office, which by email provided us with a few different data sets.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s one-year survey, Texas’ Hispanic or Latino population in 2014 numbered 10.4 million—with the female Hispanic population totaling nearly 5.2 million residents. Put another way, Latinos made up about 39 percent of the state’s nearly 27 million residents in 2014, per the bureau, with Latinas accounting for 19 percent of residents.

Upshot: Texas has lately been home to more than 5 million Latinas.

To check Texas’ history of congressional representation, we asked EMILY’s List for its backup.

Spokeswoman Rachel Thomas replied by email that Texas through history has elected three women of color to the House and none to the Senate — and those women were African-American.

A Web search led us to a searchable history of women in Congress, also cited by Thomas. That history showed that Texas, a state since 1845, has elected seven women to the House, including current Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth and Democratic Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston. Historically, four of Texas’ congresswomen were white, and three were black.

According to a similar history of Hispanic Americans in Congress on the House website:

• Seventeen Hispanic Texans, all men, have won election to Congress, including current Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Houston as well as Republican Rep. Bill Flores of Bryan and Democratic Reps. Joaquín Castro of San Antonio, Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Filemon Vela of Brownsville and Hinojosa.

• The first Latino elected to the House from Texas was Henry B. González of San Antonio, who served from 1961 into early 1999. With 37 years in the House, he also was the longest-serving Hispanic member of Congress.

• The first woman to represent Texas was Lera Millard Thomas of Nacogdoches, a Democrat who won a special election to serve out nine months remaining in the term of her husband, Albert Richard Thomas, upon his death in 1966. The first woman of color to represent Texas was Houston’s Barbara Jordan, who was elected to the House in 1973 with 81 percent of the vote and served until 1979.

• Nationally, 107 Latinos and 313 women have served in Congress, including 11 Latinas, all in the House: Washington Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler, Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, New Mexico Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, New York Democrat Nydia M. Velázquez, and California Democrats Grace Flores Napolitano, Gloria Negrette McLeod, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Loretta Sanchez, Linda T. Sánchez, Hilda L. Solis and Norma Judith Torres. All except McLeod and Solis are currently serving in the House.

Our ruling

EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said: “Texas is home to millions of Latinas, but the state has never elected a Latina to Congress.”

More than 5 million Latinas live in Texas, whose voters have sent 17 Hispanic men to Congress — and no Latinas.

We rate this claim True.



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