The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Hispanic Caucus elected a new Chair and Vice-Chair on Friday November 30th during the DNC’s 2007 Fall meeting, the last full gathering of DNC members before the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Acting Chair Ramona Martinez (Denver, Colorado) was elected Chair and Eliseo Roques (San Juan, Puerto Rico) was elected to serve as Vice-Chair for the caucus.
Martinez took over as Acting Chair in February of this year and at Friday’s election was elected unanimously to continue Chairing the caucus. A Colorado native, Martinez promised to focus on increasing Hispanic representation at the 2008 national convention, which will be held in Denver, Colorado next August.
“If we are going to show strength as a community,” said Martinez following her election, “we have to increase our numbers. At the convention in Los Angeles we had 400 Hispanic delegates, and in Boston we had 600. Now we have to take the next step, and we have to be very proactive to make sure our states are well represented and representative.”
Denver was selected as the host city for the 2008 convention by the DNC in part to increase Hispanic voter participation in the presidential election process. The DNC also added Nevada as one of the first presidential nomination contests in the country to give Hispanics a greater role in the selection of a Democratic nominee.
“I’m here because I believe that Hispanics hold the key to winning the Presidential election,” Roques told his fellow caucus members promising to help “grow this caucus.” Roques’ election added regional diversity to the caucus’ leadership. The caucus includes members from states and territories representing roughly five out of six Latinos in the United States, including Puerto Rico where Roques resides. Roques, 36, is also the youngest Vice-Chair in the DNC Hispanic Caucus’ history.
During the meeting, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter surprised the caucus with an impromptu appearance to congratulate Martinez on being elected Chair, and to highlight the important role Hispanics will play in the upcoming presidential elections.