Who will be the first Latino President?

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

March 4, 2021

Qué onda mi gente?!

Last year, our CEO Gary Acosta and the NAHREP National Board of Directors set a number of audacious goals for our organization that pertain to the broader Latino community:

  • Guide the Latino community to be among the wealthiest and most philanthropic in the nation.
  • Build NAHREP to be the largest and most effective economic mobility organization in America.
  • Incubate 1,000 new Hispanic millionaires and five new Hispanic billionaires.
  • Help Latinos dominate the Fortune 500 boardrooms and C-Suites.
  • Help elect the first Latino President of the United States of America.

At the National Advocacy Committee, our work is directly tied to helping build NAHREP into the largest and most effective economic mobility organization in America. For that, we have to build strong relationships with elected officials. They have to know we exist and we have to contact them often on policy issues we care about. All of this is why responding to every issue campaign we launch through the NAC is so critical. Two campaigns are happening right now, one on housing inventory and the other on immigration. If you haven’t participated in them yet, please do so now!

Today I want to talk about how we can help elect the first Latino President of the United States of America. I love thinking and dreaming about this and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, particularly because of the challenges Xavier Becerra is having with his confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. To be honest, I’ve been triggered by comments calling him “utterly unqualified.” In my personal opinion, Xavier Becerra is one of the brightest, most accomplished, articulate leaders we have on the “Latino bench,” with every pedigree you can think of. I would bet on him getting something done and doing it well against anyone. Unqualified is a term used when politically expedient, most often against women or people of color, and only when it is of convenience. Xavier Becerra has about the same qualifications as Paul Ryan when he was chosen to be the Vice Presidential candidate. A VP is a breath away from the Office of the President with access to nuclear codes. You may not agree with Becerra’s policies, but unqualified, yeah no.

So this brings me to this: who are our possible Latino presidential hopefuls? Who will give us our best shot at having the first Latina or Latino president of the United States of America? Let’s dream and speculate a little.

The Latino Presidential Bench

Xavier Becerra: The Attorney General of California, and former Representative in the U.S. House and the California State Assembly, Becerra is a leader to watch. Stanford educated, with an uncanny understanding of economic policy, and a proven track record around trade, health, immigration and economics. We will see what happens with his confirmation to become HHS Secretary. However, Becerra could also become a future Governor of California and later run for president.

Julián Castro: Another Stanford grad, and former Secretary of HUD and Mayor of San Antonio, Castro was the most recent Latino to run for President. He didn’t make it very far but I don’t think his career is over. Castro is young and he could be a contender for a Senate seat or gubernatorial seat in Texas which could put him in a better position to run for president after that.

Ted Cruz: Currently serving as Senator of Texas, Cruz has run for president before and is definitely working toward another run. I see many of his moves today directly tied to his efforts to inherit President Trump’s base, particularly his move to not decry the Jan 6th Capital attack. Out of all of the people on this list, Cruz is the most likely to run in the 2024 presidential election.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Whether you agree with her policies or not, AOC has undoubtedly become the most powerful Latina in politics today by charting her own path. She has been able to mobilize young people into the political process like no one else, revolutionizing politics from the fake to the authentic. She’s raw and people resonate with that and she uses social media as a powerful mobilizing tool that probably only President Trump could rival. She’s extremely young but I don’t think we will wait decades before we see her catapult on to the national stage. She will definitely be a contender for a Senate seat in New York sometime soon, or she might even skip that step altogether.

Catherine Cortez Masto: Currently serving as Senator from Nevada and former Nevada Attorney General, Cortez Masto was highly considered as a Vice Presidential candidate by President Biden last year. Every time I hear her talk I swear I stand up straighter. She is a true role model. Every time she talks she blows people away. She is prepared, she is intelligent, she is fierce.

Alex Padilla: The nation is just getting introduced to Alex Padilla as the new Senator from California. Padilla has a powerful story, an MIT grad, the son of immigrants, a cook and a housecleaner. He has a proven career in public service in California but has an amazing opportunity to catapult to the national stage as the new Subcommittee Chair of Immigration in the Senate Judiciary Committee just as Congress braces to pass a sweeping immigration bill. We’ll have to wait to see how his 2022 election goes though.

Marco Rubio: And last but not least, we have Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio sits on the Committee on Foreign Relations, he is the Chair of the Small Business Committee, and one of the architects of the Paycheck Protection Program. Foreign policy and small business are his areas of focus, two issues important to many Latinos. He ran for president before and he has a following. We shall see what happens with him and the role he plays in the passage of comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Any others? Who did I miss? Who is your pick? Vote here.

About Noerena Limón

Noerena Limón is NAHREP’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Industry Relations. Noerena heads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts on issues ranging from homeownership, housing inventory, credit access and immigration.

Prior to joining NAHREP, Noerena spent six years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and served as a political appointee under President Obama in the White House Office of Political Affairs.