The Spanish were here long before any other Europeans, founding St. Augustine, Florida, more than 50 years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock, and their political influence is still felt strongly across America today.
Democrats might claim they own the Latino vote, but America is filled with influential Latinos who also happen to be conservative Republicans. Two even happen to be the leading Republican presidential candidates.
In 2004, George W. Bush scored an estimated 44 percent
of the Latino vote, helping him edge out John Kerry. That number dropped to 23 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012.
With more than 13 million Latino votes up for grabs
in November — and huge representations concentrated in states like Texas and Florida — many GOP strategists have said that the key to a Republican victory is the Latino vote.
Here, Newsmax has gathered a list of the top 50 most influential Latino Republicans. From state governors, representatives, and mayors, to businessmen and women, pundits, and commentators, this collection of people truly demonstrates what rich flavor Latino Republicans add to our country's political scene.
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1. Ted Cruz
— The junior Republican senator from Texas and one of the top leading candidates for president is the son of Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, an American, and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a Cuban. He was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
2. Marco Rubio
— The junior Republican senator from Florida and one of the top leading candidates for president is a Cuban-American born and raised in Miami. Both of his parents are Cuban and moved to the United States in 1956 to become U.S. citizens.
3. Lincoln Diaz-Balart
— The former Republican representative from Florida from 1993 to 2011 was born in Havana, Cuba. He is a prominent attorney in Florida.
4. Luis Fortuno
— This former governor of Puerto Rico was the first Republican since 1969 to hold the post. He also made history in 2004 as the first Republican representative from Puerto Rico to be elected to Congress.
5. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
— She is the senior Republican representative from Florida and the most senior Republican woman in the House. She was born in Cuba and her family moved to the U.S. when she was seven.
6. Mario Diaz-Balart
— Lincoln's brother is a current Republican representative from Florida. He was born in Fort Lauderdale.
7. Otto Reich
— A former senior official in the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, Reich served as the President's Special Envoy for the Western Hemisphere and as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
8. Roger Noriega
— The former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the George W. Bush administration, he also served as ambassador to the Organization of American States. He is Mexican-American and currently sits as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
9. Ana Navarro
— A native of Nicaragua, Navarro is a leading Republican strategist who served as co-chair of Sen. John McCain's Hispanic Advisory Council and as Gov. Jeb Bush's Director of Immigration Policy. She is a political contributor on CNN.
10. George Prescott Bush
— Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and scion of the Bush dynasty, he is the eldest son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba Gallo Bush, who was born in Mexico and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1979.
11. Mike Fernandez
— Born in Cuba, this American healthcare industry businessman is also a major Republican donor.
12. Al Cardenas
— Former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Cardenas was born in Cuba and once named by The Hill as one of the top lobbyists in Washington, D.C
. Also the former chairman of the American Conservative Union, he is currently a partner at the law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
13. Alberto Gonzales
— His U.S. Attorney General appointment by President George W. Bush made him the highest-ranking Hispanic American in the executive branch when he served from 2005 to 2007. Before that, he served as Texas Secretary of State and also as a Texas Supreme Court Justice.
14. Brian Sandoval
— The Republican governor of Nevada, former judge of the U.S. District Court for the district of Nevada, and former Nevada Attorney General is of Mexican ancestry.
15. Tomas Pedro Regalado
— Born in Havana, Cuba, this former broadcast journalist currently serves as the Republican mayor of Miami.
16. Susana Martinez
— A Republican, she has served as governor of New Mexico since 2011, and is the first Hispanic female ever to be elected governor. She addressed the Republican National Convention in 2012.
17. Carlos Perez
— This Cuban-American businessman served a close adviser to President Reagan and Jack Kemp. His influential radio show broadcasts on Miami's Ponderosa radio station.
18. Andy Garcia
— This successful Hollywood acting star is a Republican and outspoken conservative who supported Mitt Romney in 2012. He was born Andrés Arturo García Menéndez in Havana, Cuba.
19. Alejandro "Alex" Castellanos
— Cuban-born, Castellanos has served as a Republican political consultant in six presidential campaigns and a guest commentator on CNN.
20. Raul Labrador
— This Republican representative from Idaho was born in Puerto Rico and moved with his mother to Las Vegas at the age of 13. He serves on the Natural Resources and Judiciary Committees and is vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
21. Sean D. Reyes
— The current Attorney General of Utah's father is from the Philippines and of Spanish descent.
22. Bettina Inclan-Agen
— She served as the Republican National Committee's first National Director of Hispanic Outreach in 2012. She is of Cuban and Mexican heritage.
23. John Sanchez
— The Republican Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico, Sanchez's ancestors have been political powers in the U.S. since New Mexico's territorial days.
24. Carlos Curbelo
— This Republican representative from Florida is the son of Cuban exiles.
25. Linda Chavez
— Chavez, an author and political pundit from New Mexico, was the first Hispanic woman in the United States to be nominated to a cabinet position when President George W. Bush nominated her for secretary of labor in 2001. She now works as a Fox News analyst and serves as chairwoman of the Center for Equal Opportunity.
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26. Jaime Herrera Beutler
— A Republican representative from Washington, Beutler, whose father is of Mexican descent, has strong conservative values, an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association, and is pro-life.
27. Carlos Lopez-Cantera
— The lieutenant governor of Florida is the first Hispanic to hold that position. Born in Madrid, Spain, he is currently running for Sen. Marco Rubio's seat.
28. Ed Lopez
— Lopez, the former National Vice Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus and Republican activist, is a Mormon of Guatemalan descent.
29. Alex X. Mooney
— The Republican representative from West Virginia is the first Hispanic elected to Congress in the state's history. His mother Lala was a Cuban political refugee who was imprisoned by Castro.
30. Jennifer Sevilla Korn
— Deputy political director and national director for Hispanic Initiatives with the RNC, Korn is also an active commentator on Fox News and CNN. She served as director of Hispanic and Women's Affairs under President George W. Bush.
31. Gustavo Barreiro
— A Florida state representative since 1998, Barreiro was born in Matanzas, Cuba.
32. Rosario Marin
— Born in Mexico, the former U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush served 22 years in all levels of government. She also wrote a book about her professional endeavors titled "Leading Between Two Worlds: Lessons from the First Mexican-Born Treasurer of the United States."
33. Massey Villarreal
— CEO of Precision Task Group and former chairman of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Villarreal was named one of the most influential Hispanics in the country
by Hispanic Business Magazine in 2002.
34. Alfonso Aguilar
— The executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles served as the first chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship under President George W. Bush.
35. Daniel Garza
— Executive director of the conservative LIBRE Initiative, he was appointed the the associate director of the Office of Public Liaison in the White House in 2004.
36. Lauro "Larry" Garza
— A 25-year law enforcement veteran, Garza is host of Latino Conservative Talk Radio and LatinoTalk on BlogTalkRadio.
37. Rev. Tony Suarez
— The executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference often meets with members of Congress and other politicians and has also been featured on CNN, Univision, and NBC Latino, among other outlets.
38. Blanquita Cullum
— A conservative commentator, she served as the former governor of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors.
39. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla
— This Republican member of the Florida Senate is the former Miami-Dade County Commissioner.
40. Anitere Flores
— A Republican member of the Florida Senate, she was the first Hispanic woman to serve in both the Florida Senate and House.
41. Bill Flores
— A Republican representative from Texas and former CEO of Phoenix Exploration Company, Flores' ancestors came from Spain in 1725.
42. Marilinda Garcia
— Considered a rising star by the Republican National Committee
, she is a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who was elected in 2006 when she was just 23.
43. Pete Lopez
— The New York state assemblyman is the son of a father from Camuy, Puerto Rico.
44. Michelle Lujan Grisham
— This New Mexico member of Congress is the niece of Manuel Lujan, a former congressman and Secretary of the Interior under President George H. W. Bush.
45. Jason Mattera
— A conservative blogger and radio host, he is also the best-selling author of "Obama Zombies: How The Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation."
46. Antonia Coello Novello
— The former New York Commissioner of Health, Novello also served as the first female and first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General from 1990 to1993.
47. Feliciano Sergio "Felix" Sabates
— A well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sabates is a partner with Chip Ganassi Racing teams, former co-chairman of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force on Latino Health, and member of the Board of Directors for Carolinas Health Care Systems. He was born in Cuba.
48. Leslie Sanchez
— This Republican political pundit and author is the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans under President George W. Bush and founder of consulting firm Impacto Group, LLC.
49. Arturo "Arte" Moreno
— In 2003 he became the first Mexican-American to own a major sports team — the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. An outspoken Republican, Moreno contributed money to Mitt Romney's campaign and to the Republican National Committee.
50. Rachel Campos-Duffy
— She started out on MTV's "The Real World: San Francisco," where her Republican values sometimes caused her to clash with her housemates. Since then, she's become a noted TV personality with many appearances on "The View" over the years. She is married to Sean Duffy, a Republican U.S. representative from Wisconsin.
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