6 Latinos running in highly competitive congressional races

With just days before the November 4 midterm elections, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials finds that six Latino candidates are running in…

With just days before the November 4 midterm elections, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials finds that six Latino candidates are running in some of the nation’s most competitive congressional races.

Here’s a look at those candidates:

Joe Garcia

Rep. Joe Garcia of Florida is fighting to hold on to his seat. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) is one of the most vulnerable congressional Democratic incumbents. In 2012, Garcia ran on an anti-corruption platform and defeated then-Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), who was plagued with scandals.

Now, as he runs for re-election, Garcia is defending himself against allegations of corruption. Last year, his former chief of staff was convicted of absentee ballot fraud. And now federal investigators are looking into whether Garcia’s campaign helped fund a “shadow candidate” in 2010 when he first ran against Rivera and lost.

Even though Garcia hasn’t faced any chargers, Republicans are attacking him on the issue. They’re also pouring money into the campaign of Garcia’s opponent, Miami-Dade County School Board member Carlos Curbelo.

Both Garcia and Curbelo are sons of Cuban exiles. Polls have shown the two are running in a tight race for Florida’s 26th congressional district, which is one of the nation’s most competitive districts and where 62 percent of eligible voters are Hispanic.

Pete Gallego

I'm Ready For Immigration Reform Campaign Press Conference

Rep. Pete Gallego of Texas is facing a tough re-election battle. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Texas) is fighting to hold on to his seat in what is considered the only competitive congressional race in Texas this year.

First elected to Congress in 2012, he represents Texas’ 23th congressional district. The district is home to many military families and has a population that’s nearly 70 percent Hispanic.

Gallego is a former state representative who was born and raised in the district. His Republican challenger is Will Hurd, a former CIA operative who started his own security firm. Hurd portrays himself as someone who has unique knowledge of national security and foreign policy in part due to his days as an undercover office in South Asia and the Middle East.

Hurd has cast Gallego, who served in the state legislature for more than a decade before being elected to Congress, as a career politician. Gallego has defended himself by highlighting his strong community ties.

Political pundits predict Gallego will win but only by a small margin.

Amanda Renteria

Amanda Renteria

Amanda Renteria is trying to unseat Republican incumbent David Valadao. (Photo Credit: Renteria’s campaign)

Amanda Renteria finds herself in a competitive race to unseat Republican incumbent David Valadao in California’s 21st congressional district. The district has a rich agriculture industry and a nearly 73 percent Latino population.

Renteria is a daughter of a Mexican immigrant farmworker and was the first Latina to serve as chief of staff in the U.S. Senate. She also played a critical role in efforts to pass the Farm Bill in 2012.

Valadao comes from a farming family and has been praised for helping shape local, state and national agricultural policies. Growing up, he learned to speak Spanish mainly by speaking to workers on his family’s ranch.

Both candidates have similar views on some issues, including their support for immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But they also disagree on a number of issues, like raising the minimum wage.

A SurveyUSA poll released last week shows the race between the two candidates is tightening. Valadao currently leads Renteria by five points, after leading by 19 points in September.

Raul Ruiz

Dr. Raul Ruiz talks at a friends of Haiti gala in Los Angeles.

Rep. Raul Ruiz is running for re-election in a highly competitive race. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for J/P HRO)

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) faces a competitive challenge to be re-elected to serve a second term in California’s 36th congressional district.

Ruiz is a son of farmworkers who went from living in a trailer home with his family to graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, and earning three graduate degrees from Harvard. He also worked as an emergency room physician.

Since being elected to Congress in 2012, Ruiz has been an advocate of creating new manufacturing jobs in the U.S and securing federal funds to support local small businesses.

Ruiz faces a tough re-election battle against Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande. If elected, Nestande says he wants to reform the tax code and the way government spends tax dollars.

Real Clear Politics suggests Ruiz is seen as the favorite to win.

Marilinda Garcia

Marilinda Garcia

Marilinda Garcia is facing a tough contest to unseat a Democratic incumbent. (Photo Credit: Garcia’s campaign)

Four-term state Rep. Marilinda Garcia is facing a competitive contest in her bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd congressional district.

At 31 years old, Garcia is a rising star in the Republican Party. To some, she is too young and doesn’t have enough experience to be elected to Congress. But to others, she is just the type of person the Republican Party needs to change its image: someone who is young, a strong conservative and a Hispanic.

Throughout the campaign trail, Garcia has tried to tie Kuster to President Barack Obama, who has low approval ratings among New Hampshire residents. Meanwhile, Kuster has tried to frame Garcia as a tea-party extremist.

The latest New England College poll shows Garcia is trailing Kuster. According to the poll, 49.2 percent of likely New Hampshire voters said they supported Kuster while 42.9 percent said they favored Garcia.

Alex Mooney

Alex Mooney

Alex Mooney could become the first Latino elected to represent West Virginia in Congress. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Alex Mooney is a Republican looking to be the first Latino elected to represent West Virginia in the House of Representatives. But first, he must defeat Nick Casey, a former chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party.

Mooney’s mother is from Cuba. If elected to Congress, he pledges to fight for conservative values, but he faces a tough challenge to win. He’s currently being accused of moving to West Virginia to run for Congress. He lived in Maryland for most of his life. There, he served as a state senator and chairman of Maryland’s Republican Party.

Casey’s campaign has also criticized Mooney for moving to West Virginia just to run for Congress. Casey says he is running for Congress to change the partisan gridlock and pledges to stand up to the special interests in Washington.

The two candidates are running for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The race between Mooney and Casey to win West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district is viewed as a toss-up.