America’s Least Latino State Elected Its First Latino Congressman

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West Virginia is, demographically speaking, the least Latino state in the Union, but on Tuesday it elected its first Latino Member of Congress:

The state with the smallest share of Latinos in the nation has elected its first Latino congressional representative, Alex Mooney.

Mooney, a conservative Republican, ran against Nick Casey, a former chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party. Mooney beat Casey with 46.7 to 44.2 percent of the vote, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.

After his victory, Mooney tweeted: “I cannot thank you enough for this humbling opportunity to serve the people of West Virginia.”

Latinos make up just 1.2 percent – or slightly more than 22,268 – of the Eastern Panhandle state’s population.

Mooney, 43, ruffled feathers with his candidacy for West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, which leans Republican.

Many accused the Cuban-American of having made the state his home solely to run for office.

For most of his life, until recently, Mooney lived in Maryland, where he was Republican Party chairman. Before that his political career included serving as a Maryland state senator for 12 years, being a congressional aide and a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

Several news outlets frowned upon Mooney’s brief West Virginian presence, in effect depicting him as opportunistic.

“He has the background to run for Congress. Except all of that [political experience] happened in other states,” said the West Virginia Gazette before the election.

Mooney and Casey, who is 61, were vying to succeed U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican who won election to the U.S. Senate.

Casey’s campaign did not mince words about Mooney, hammering away at his not-too-long-ago Maryland address.

“It’s long past time that Alex Mooney tells the truth about himself to the voters of the second district,” said Casey campaign manager Derek Scarbro in a statement on the Democrat’s website.

“Mooney has yet to identify himself as a former member of the Maryland State Senate in his advertising, a tactic that’s clearly designed to mislead voters into thinking he’s a West Virginian.”

In the end, the carpetbagger issue did not prove to be a problem for Mooney, nor did his Cuban heritage. In no small part, of course, this is likely because Mooney was running in a heavily Republican District in a state that is becoming redder with each election cycle. Nonetheless, the fact that we’re seeing people of Latino heritage make inroads even in states like West Virginia is a strong testament to the extent to which this demographic group is becoming an increasingly important part of American politics. Politicians, and political parties, that ignore this reality do so at their peril.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2014, Congress, Quick Takes, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Hmm… he won as a Republican.

    In your article about the 18-year-old college student getting elected to her state’s legislature, she’s also a Republican.

    Mia Love, Tim Scott, and Joni Ernst are also Republicans.

    I’m sensing a failing narrative here…

  2. Pinky says:

    So, maybe race isn’t the only thing that runs through everyone’s minds when –

    eh, never mind.

  3. sam says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “I’m sensing a failing narrative here… ”

    Your sensor array needs recalibrating. Four notes do not a symphony make.

  4. Gustopher says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Republicans have definitely benefitted from a backlash against the changing demographics of America. But, once the Republican Party begins embracing those changing demographics, what happens?

    I’m not saying that most Republicans are racists, but most racists are Republicans. You might take offense, but do you really think the fine folks at Stormfront are pulling the lever for Obama? They might take off the white robes before entering the voting booth, but they aren’t voting for Democrats.

    And, with the margins that Republicans are winning at, even in a Republican Wave, can they really afford to lose the racist vote? Representative elect Mooney won with 47% of the vote.

  5. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:

    Not necessarily. In my neck of the woods, there are a lot of blue collar white ethnic Democrats with strongly racist views.

  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Gustopher: I’m not saying that most Republicans are racists, but most racists are Republicans. You might take offense, but do you really think the fine folks at Stormfront are pulling the lever for Obama? They might take off the white robes before entering the voting booth, but they aren’t voting for Democrats.

    Gee, and I get yelled at when I say “while most Muslims aren’t terrorists, most terrorists are Muslims” or that the majority of wars going on today involve an Islamist element.

    As far as Stormfront and their ilk are concerned… I don’t give a crap how they vote. Unless, of course, they’re convicted felons, in which case I don’t want them voting. Those types have ZERO influence on my thinking — either positively (“I agree with them, so I’ll vote like them”) or negatively (“if they’re for it, I’m automatically against it.”). They are irrelevant to me. Much like, I presume, you are utterly unconcerned with International ANSWER, Democratic Underground, ELF, ALF, or any of the other far-left lunatics out there.

  7. Pinky says:

    @Gustopher: White robes always vote Democratic. Racism is in the party’s blood (and I’m not referring to ancient history here). Not all Democrats are racist, but if you believe that the government should treat you differently based on the color of your skin, you’re a Democrat.

  8. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Mia Love

    I’m sensing a failing narrative here…

    Yea, a black Republican being elected is a huge story, an event about as common as unicorn sightings.

    There is a failing narrative, but I don’t think it’s the one you think it is…

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: What must really scare you is that these are black Republicans who aren’t corrupt, insane, or both. (Jesse Jackson Jr., Maxine Waters, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Rangel, Cynthia McKinney, just to name a few…)

    Why, it’s almost like the Republicans actually look beyond skin color when they cast their votes or something…

  10. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Both parties are full of corrupt hacks, incompetents, and borderline crazies. That you so obsess over blacks that have some or all of those traits is revealing.

    You’ve never learned to speak without exposing yourself, have you?

  11. anjin-san says:

    @Pinky:

    White robes always vote Democratic.

    Right dude. Why don’t you tell us again how no one was talking about abortion in the early 70’s.

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: And you never say a single thing of substance, never take an actual position, just attack others. It’s like you’re constitutionally incapable of actually showing a trace of testicular fortitude.

    And as far as my “cherry-picking,” it’s YOUR side that put all those cherries out for anyone to see how rancid they are. So if you want to judge Scott by the color of his skin, that’s your choice. I prefer to judge him by the content of his character. And it’s hardly my fault that the list I cited included a convicted felon, a corrupt raving moonbat, an impeached judge, an incredibly corrupt tax cheat WHO HEADED THE COMMITTEE THAT WRITES TAX LAWS, and a sociopathic antisemite moonbat.

    Why are you more upset that I told the truth about them than that what I said is true? All of them should have been drummed out of the Democratic party (or, at least, shunned and ostracized), but that didn’t happen. Well, Jackson is a bit of a pariah now that he’s a convicted felon, and McKinney pretty much moved over to the Green Party, but Waters, Hastings, and Rangel are still honored leading members of the Democratic Party.

    So please, offer a defense of these proud leading Democrats. I’d be thrilled to see you actually say something of substance for once.

    I don’t expect you to; I already have a pretty good idea what you’ll say instead, but I feel morally obligated to give you a chance, for once, to actually offer something of value. Yo won’t take it, of course, but I have to give you the chance.

  13. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Why are you more upset that I told the truth about them

    Dude, you are about as upsetting as a kitten farting.

    But keep running with the “substance” thing. Watching you flog such a lame horse is at least a little amusing, in a sad sort of way. Why would someone want to say something of substance to you? It would be like kissing an ugly woman who’s a bad kisser.

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Well, I was wrong when I said I knew what you’d say. But thank you, again, for demonstrating that, even when given just short of an engraved invitation to discuss the topic at hand, you will refuse to do so and instead opt to make off-topic, ad hominem insults.

    Which, I believe, are a direct violation of this site’s Stated Policies:

    Comments that contain personal attacks about the post author or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated violators will be banned. Challenge the ideas of those with whom you disagree, not their patriotism, decency, or integrity.

    But don’t you fret your pretty (and empty) little head there. Just because those are the rules doesn’t mean that they are actually enforced or anything. They’re just stuck on the wall, kinda like the picture one hangs to hide an unsightly stain.

    One final point. let me preempt your instinctive rebuttal: yes, I engage in “personal attacks” as well. But I make a point of at least swinging in the general direction of the topic at hand. You, however, take a perverse pride in not saying anything about the topic; your whole point in commenting is to make the “personal attack.”

  15. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Hmmm. I could take up your offer to defend people I have no interest in defending, or I could continue with the Paul Desmond + Telefunken + Harbeth thing I have going at the moment.

    Wow, that’s a tough call.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Wow. Your excuse looks just like a Telefunken U47. But lamer.

  17. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Your excuse looks just like a Telefunken U47. But lamer.

    Hmm. The U47 is a stone classic. If you want to own one, it will run close to 10k (in other words, you will never own one.) Do you have any other clever quips? You really should be careful about basing comments on topics you know nothing about on 30 seconds of Googling. Of course if you did that, you would have precious little to say at all.

    At any rate, I was referring to my pair of Telefunken E88CCs with 1966 date codes, not a mic.

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: So you’re not a Frank Zappa fan. Add that to your multitude of deficiencies and flaws.

  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Nobody seems to have pointed out the obvious – while he may have some degree of Hispanic heritage, he also has an Irish last name and he looks like a kid from South Boston.

    I can’t help but wonder how his vote count might have changed if, say, his last name was Rodriguez or Sanchez and he actually looked Hispanic.