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Tuesday's Ballots Have a Latina Stamp-Here's Some Races To Watch

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LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 28: (L-R) U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Lucy Flores, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Democratic candidate for attorney general Ross Miller appear on stage after speaking during a get-out-the-vote rally at the Springs Preserve on October 28, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton is stumping for Nevada Democrats one week before the November 4th election. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- In the last four midterm elections, Latinas have made up 52 percent to 54 percent of the entire Latino vote, making them essential to a strong showing of HIspanic voters. According to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, the number of Latina voters has increased 65 percent from 2.13 million in 1998 to 3.5 million in 2010.

With national parties wrestling to scoop up as much of the women's vote as possible and the prospects of a Hillary Clinton candidacy in 2016, Latinas' consistently strong showing at the polls makes them a coveted constituency.

It also makes their lower numbers in public office all the more glaring. Of the 6,044 Latinos holding elected local, state and federal public office, 35 percent are women. This election could begin to improve that gap.

Here are some Latinas vying for office that you'll want to know about going into Tuesday’s elections:

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Republican – Up for election to her second term, Martinez is expected to win easily against Democrat Gary King, even though New Mexico is a blue state. Martinez’s push to repeal a law providing driver’s licenses to immigrants illegally in the U.S. in the heavily Hispanic state also doesn't seem to be getting in the way. Her re-election will be more notable for the potential for her to be on the GOP’s 2016 ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

 Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is running for re-election. Russell Contreras / AP

Assemblymember Lucy Flores, Democrat - Flores is locked in a high-stakes race against Republican Mark Hutchison for the Nevada lieutenant governor’s job in a state where Latinos were key to delivering the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a win in 2012 but where voters overall elected Republican Brian Sandoval as governor. Flores, in her second term in the Assembly, is an attorney who dropped out of high school, was involved with a gang and whose mother abandoned her. Should she win she would be positioned to take over as governor if Sandoval challenges Reid in 2016.

Annette Taddeo, Democrat – Taddeo is runningmate to Democrat Charlie Crist, who is challenging Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The former chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party was born in Colombia and raised in Miami where she established a language translation business. She picked up an endorsement from Emily’s List, which called her an inspiring Florida success story. Some have questioned her lack of public office experience and she took some heat for a tweet from her account criticizing Scott’s Spanish. Taddeo told a local station the staffer responsible was talked to about what they should and should not do.

Evelyn Sanguinetti, Republican – Sanguinetti is runningmate to Republican Bruce Rauner who is challenging Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn for the Illinois governor’s seat. An attorney and Wheaton, Illinois councilmember, she is the daughter of immigrants from Ecuador and Cuba and grew up in Miami. She also has worked as an assistant attorney general in Illinois.

Texas Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, Democrat – Van de Putte could be the first Latina elected for statewide office in Texas if she wins. Yet in a state where nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino, she is considered the underdog to Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, a talk radio host. Hoping to overcome that, she’s been doggedly campaigning across the vast state while Patrick has been laying low. Though she’s faces heavy odds, her campaign is laying the groundwork for future Democrats who hope the state’s demographics will one day work in their favor.

Amanda Renteria, Democrat – Democrats picked Renteria to challenge Rep. David Valadao, the incumbent in the heavily Hispanic San Joaquin Valley California House District 21. Renteria was the first Latina chief of staff hired in the U.S. Senate, but has been emphasizing her local roots in her campaign and her understanding of the district’s difficult issues, namely the state’s drought. The race has tightened but Democrats have had to move money from her camapign to bolster incumbents.

 Amanda Renteria is interviewed in 2008. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file

Marilinda Garcia, Republican – A conservative, Garcia is challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd House district. She was one of the picks of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Future Majority Caucus that seeks to diversify GOP ranks. Garcia, whose father is Mexican-American, had run a close, race but has recently acknowledged she used parts of an article in a speech without proper attribution. The contest is considered to lean Democrat.

California Sen. Norma Torres, Democrat – Guatemala-born Torres is expected to be voters' pick to fill the California 35th U.S. House District seat. The incumbent, Demcoratic Rep. Gloria Negrete-McLeod is retiring. Torres has said she can relate to the plight of the young Central American children who arrived on the U.S.-Mexico border by the tens of thousands this year. Her parents brought her to the U.S. while civil war raged in Guatemala.

  Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Nellie Gorbea, Democrat - Gorbea won her Democratic primary and faces Republican John Carlevale for the chance to be Rhode Island's secretary of state. The former executive director of a non-profit policy group Housing Works RI, Gorbea has also served as a deputy secretary of state. She differs from her opponent on the need for the state's voter ID law. She would be the first Latina elected to statewide office in all of New England, if elected.

Dianna Duran, Republican – Duran was elected in 2011, becoming the first Republican N.M. secretary of state. She's seeking re-election but running even with Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver, according to an Albuquerque Journal poll from last week. Access to the ballot box and election integrity have become issues in their close contest.