Texas set to send its first Latinas to the Congress

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas appears poised to send the first Latinas from the heavily Hispanic state to the U.S. Congress after two women won Democratic primary elections for congressional seats considered safe for the party in November, results on Wednesday showed.

In Houston, state Senator Sylvia Garcia won in Tuesday’s vote in the 29th congressional district, a Democratic stronghold expected to be carried by the party’s candidate in the November general election.

Former El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar also easily won her primary in the state’s 16th congressional district.

“This race was about the future but also about El Paso and the state of country,” Escobar told supporters in El Paso on Tuesday night after she was projected to win, adding that she was proud of her heritage and the historic nature of her victory.

Texas’ population is about 40 percent Hispanic. The state, which has the longest border with Mexico of any U.S. state, has been at the forefront of the immigration debate under Republican President Donald Trump, who has called for a border wall and a crack down on immigration.

His plans were attacked by several prominent Democrats running in the Texas primary held on Tuesday, the first U.S. primary of the 2018 midterm election season.

Texas has sent men of Latino heritage to Congress, including current members Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro.

U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida was the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress in 1989.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Julio-César Chávez in El Paso; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Rosalba O’Brien)