The US Congress has been at a standstill
The US Congress AFP

The number of lawmakers abandoning Congress is increasing at a record pace, and Latinos are not the exception to this trend. According to Ballotpedia, the amount of Senators and Representatives who announced they won't seek reelection climbed to 13 in November, a record figure.

Overall, 30 Congresspeople made announcements of the kind during the electoral cycle. However, there is a key division: there are those who are retiring completely and those who will make a run for the Senate. 19 are in the former category, two of them Latinos, and 11 in the latter, including the remaining Latino, Ruben Gallego.

The two Latinos who announced they won't seek reelection, Tony Cardenas and George Santos, did so for extremely different reasons: Cardenas, the first Latino to represent California's 29th district, will leave a solidly Democratic seat.

"The truth of the matter is I thought I could do this just for a few years ... I'm just at the age where I have enough energy and experience to maybe do something [different] and have another chapter of a career where I don't have to go to Washington, D.C., 32 weeks out of the year," Cardenas told the LA Times about his decision.

Santos, of Brazilian descent, has a completely different case: he said in mid-November he wouldn't be seeking reelection after the Republican chairman of the House's ethics panel called for Santos' expulsion of the chamber following an investigation that found "substantial evidence" showing he had violated federal criminal laws.

Concretely, the bipartisan panel concluded that Santos "blatantly stole" from his campaign and sought to "fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy" for personal financial gain. The document also said that the Republican "cannot be trusted," as he knowingly led his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Elections Commission; used campaign funds for personal purposes and violated the Ethics in Government Act.

George Santos
George Santos David Becker

But Santos will likely not make it to the end of his term. On Sunday he said he expects to be expelled from Congress and will "wear it like a badge of honor."

"I know I'm going to get expelled when this expulsion resolution goes to the floor," the New York Republican said Friday on an X (formerly Twitter) Space hosted by conservative media personality Monica Matthews. "I have done the math over and over," and "it doesn't look really good," he added.

Asides from the House report, Santos faces a 23-count federal indictment, which alleges he stole the identities of campaign donors and used their credit cards to make purchases for tens of thousands of dollars. If convicted, Santos faces a mandatory minimum penalty of two years in prison for the aggravated identity theft counts and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the other counts.

Gallego, on his end, will leave his seat to compete in Arizona's Senate race. Son of a Mexican father and a Colombian mother, Gallego will compete against Republican Mark Lamb and former Democrat, now independent Kyrsten Sinema. According to FiveThirtyEight's poll tracker, Gallego holds a lead in most of October's surveys, although none of them above six percentage points.

Currently, there are 46 members of the 116th United States Congress who are Latino or Hispanic Americans. They represent 8.5 percent of Congress, and while the figure is at a historical high, it's still below the proportion of Latinos in the general population, currently almost 20 percent.

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