Minority candidates rack up poll history

Wednesday 03 November 2010

The elections produced historic results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the deep South.

In New Mexico Susana Martinez was elected as the first woman Hispanic governor.

Nikki Haley, whose parents were born in India, will be the first woman governor in South Carolina and Brian Sandoval became Nevada's first Hispanic governor.

Tim Scott will be the first black Republican congressman from South Carolina since the post-civil war reconstruction era in the 1860s-70s.

In Florida Allen West is the first black Republican elected to Congress from Florida since a former slave served two terms in the 1870s.

The last black Republican in Congress was JC Watts of Oklahoma. He left office in 2003. There were 42 black Democrats in Congress this term.

In Texas Latino Republican Bill Flores snatched a seat from Democrat Chet Edwards and Francisco Canseco beat Democrat Ciro Rodriguez.

Jamie Herrera became the first Latino congressman from Washington state.

Fourteen black Republicans stood - almost double the number in 2008.

On the Democratic side, Terri Sewell became the first black woman elected to Congress in Alabama.

UCLA professor and director of its Centre for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics Mark Sawyer said that Mr Obama's election had pushed the Republicans to adjust to a more diverse electorate by seeking out minority candidates.

But he noted that almost all the victorious Republican minorities were elected in majority-white areas and opposed measures such as comprehensive immigration reform.

"This election does not show a substantive embrace of a minority agenda," he warned.

Other votes on election day:

Californians have rejected a ballot measure that would have made their state the first in the US to legalise marijuana for recreational use.

California has also rejected an initiative primarily funded by Texas oil companies to suspend the state's climate law. Proposition 23 would have delayed greenhouse gas regulations until California's unemployment rate - now at 12.4 per cent - fell to 5.5 per cent and stayed there for a year.

Massachusetts voters have rejected a proposal to lower the state sales tax from 6.25 per cent to 3 per cent. The cut would have forced the state to slash $2.5 billion (£1.55bn) in services.

In Oklahoma voters have passed measures making English the state's "common and unifying language" and prohibiting state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.

In Colorado voters have defeated an anti-abortion "personhood" amendment that would have given unborn foetuses human rights in the state constitution.

In South Dakota voters have rejected a measure to legalise medical marijuana - a step already taken by 14 other states.

Arizona voters have approved a measure banning positive discrimination programmes by state and local governments based on race, ethnicity or sex.

In Illinois, where the two most recent former governors have been convicted on federal charges, voters have approved an amendment to enable future governors to be recalled by popular vote.

Oklahoma voters have approved an amendment aimed at nullifying the new federal health-care law provision requiring people to have health insurance.

In Iowa, voters have ousted three state Supreme Court justices who joined a unanimous 2009 ruling that legalised gay marriage.

Voters in Maine's largest city Portland have rejected a measure that would have allowed residents who are not US citizens the right to cast ballots in school board, city council and other local issues, but not on federal or statewide matters.

Denver Colorado residents have jettisoned a plan to officially track space aliens. It would have allowed residents to post their sightings on Denver city's website.