By Miguel Baca Barragan, Latin Life Denver Media
The 2019-2020 session will have the largest number of Latinos in Colorado history serving at the same time with 10 Latinos in the State House and 4 Latinos in the State Senate. A total of 154 Latinos have served in Colorado’s legislative bodies including the territorial legislature.
Latinos have continued to run and be elected on both sides of the isle for decades, gaining more seats each election. However, Latinos have never held the top positions until 1975 when Ruben Valdez was elected the first Latino Speaker of the House. The next Latino would not be elected to a top spot until 2017. That year, Crisanta Duran became the first Latina to be elected Speaker of the House.
January 4, 2019, also marked the day the Colorado State Senate celebrated the first Latino to be elected President of the State Senate: Senator Leroy M. Garcia from Pueblo. In recent decades, other firsts in the Colorado State Senate have occurred on the Democratic side with the first Asian-American, the first woman, the first African-American and now the first Latino to hold the position of President of the Senate.
Colorado is becoming known as a state that is growing with the changes across the nation. In the 2018 election, Colorado elected the nation’s first openly gay Governor, Former Congressman Jared Polis, with 53.4% of the vote.
After an incredible 2018 mid-term election, the Democratic party was able to win enough seats to control all three branches of the Colorado State government. Colorado Democrats have not held all three branches of Government since 2014.