Florida stands a big chance of sending the first Puerto Rican from the state to Congress after Darren Soto won his Democratic primary.
“I’m also so proud, con mucho orgullo, (with a lot of pride) that we are continuing on a historic run, one that represents the culmination of over a million Puerto Riqueños and millions of Hispanics here in Central Florida and beyond to be the first Puerto Rican elected from Florida and first Hispanic elected from central Florida,” Soto said at his victory party, WESH2 reported.
Soto, a state senator, defeated three other candidates Tuesday in Florida’s Congressional District 9, which is a Democrat-leaning seat in central Florida. Many Puerto Ricans have lived in and moved to that area of Florida.
The district was previously held by Rep. Alan Grayson, who lost his Democratic primary bid for U.S. senator.
Rep. Patrick Murphy won that contest and will try in November to keep Republican Sen. Marco Rubio from returning to the Senate for a second term.
Soto faces Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in November.
“Darren Soto is now one step closer to becoming the first Puerto Rican from the state of Florida elected to Congress,” said Texas state Rep. César Blanco, interim director of Latino Victory Fund.
The Puerto Rican population has been growing for years but has taken off amid the U.S. territory's economic recession as many of its residents have relocated to the mainland U.S. to find work.
All other Latinos in the U.S. House and Senate from Florida are of Cuban descent.
In another Florida race, former U.S. House Rep. Joe García edged out Annette Taddeo, who was backed by the Democratic Party. He’ll go on to face incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in the general election. Curbelo has previously defeated him, but the district has since been redrawn and is more Democratic.
Also Tuesday, controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio easily won his primary, despite facing potential federal court action for not complying with a federal orders regarding racial profiling of Latinos. He was scheduled to appear with Donald Trump Wednesday for a much-anticipated immigration speech by the GOP presidential nominee.