LA Times: Now a powerhouse, California’s Latino lawmakers face pressure to broaden political priorities

April 06, 2023

When Martha Escutia was elected to the Assembly in 1992, she was one of seven Latinos in the 120-member California Legislature, part of the small but growing Latino Caucus that would eventually become a powerful force in the state Capitol.

Escutia came in during the “Year of the Woman,” when U.S. Senate victories by California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer highlighted the wave of women winning seats in Congress. She was one of only three Latinas who held office in the Legislature.

“We would always tease each other saying that [the Latino Caucus] could probably fit in a phone booth,” she said.

By 1996, the California Latino Legislative Caucus had doubled to 14. Today, there are 38 members, 21 of whom are women.

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