IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Latinos gain a Senate seat with Ben Ray Lujan's win in New Mexico

"I'm grateful for every vote we earned — and no matter who you voted for, it will be my honor to work for you in the Senate," Lujan tweeted.
Image: Ben Ray Lujan
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan leaves the House Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol on Sept. 11, 2019.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP Images

Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan won the U.S. Senate race in New Mexico, bringing the total of Latino senators to five.

"Thank you, New Mexico! Tonight, our campaign showed that people power can elect the son of an ironworker and a public school employee to the Senate," Lujan tweeted early Wednesday. "I'm grateful for every vote we earned — and no matter who you voted for, it will be my honor to work for you in the Senate."

Lujan, who gave up his seat in the House to run for the Senate, led in the polls for much of his campaign against Republican Mark Ronchetti, a television meteorologist. Lujan succeeds Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat who did not seek re-election.

According to NBC News' exit poll, Lujan defeated Ronchetti by about 5 percentage points.

With his win, Lujan joins an elite group of Latinos in the Senate: Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrats Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, who made history in 2017 as the first Latina elected to the Senate.

Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez is leading in the race to win the House seat Lujan left behind; she would make history as the first Latina to represent New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District.

"Congratulations to our new Senator, @benraylujan!" Leger Fernandez tweeted. "Our incredible leader from the North will now move to serve our state in the Senate. A win for all New Mexicans."

Despite Lujan's win, Latinos continue to be underrepresented in Congress.

The U.S. population is 18.5 percent Hispanic. To match the population share, the number of Hispanics in the House would have to be more than twice the current number, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

The organization's executive director, Arturo Vargas, has previously said the Senate is "one of the least representative bodies in terms of reflecting the U.S. population."

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.