Menendez looks to be trailblazer

Robert Menendez would become the sixth Latino to serve in the United States Senate. The first was Mexican-born Octaviano Larrazolo, who won a 1928 Special Election to fill a vacant seat representing New Mexico. Larrazolo, who had switched to the Republican Party because New Mexico Democrats refused to nominate Hispanic candidates, was elected Governor in 1918. He was in poor health when New Mexico’s U.S. Senator died in 1928 and he ran only for a three-month unexpired term. Dennis Chavez was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934, defeating an incumbent Republican in New Mexico. He served until his death in 1962 and was replaced by Joseph Montoya, who held the seat until his defeat in 1976 to Harrison Schmitt, the former astronaut. There were no Latinos in the Senate until earlier this year, when Mel Martinez of Florida and Ken Salazar of Colorado took office. Menendez is the only Latino to represent New Jersey in the U.S. House of Representatives and the only Latino to serve in the New Jersey State Senate. At the time of his election to the Assembly in 1987, Menendez was the fourth Latino to serve in the lower house, following Jorge Rod and Angela Perun in 1981 and Jose Arango in 1985.

Menendez looks to be trailblazer