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Democrat Ricky Hurtado Unseats GOP Incumbent Stephen Ross in North Carolina State House Race

By Zoë Kirsch | November 4, 2020

Democrat Ricky Hurtado (unc.edu)

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

Late Tuesday night, Democratic newcomer Ricky Hurtado appeared to eke out a narrow lead against GOP incumbent Stephen Ross, making him the first Latino to win a seat in the North Carolina state House, according to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections.

With 20 out of 20 precincts reporting, Hurtado tallied 20,264 votes versus Ross’s 19,869: a difference of just 395, only 97 more than the narrow margin by which Ross beat his Democratic opponent two years ago.

“We are really excited at tonight’s strong results,” Hurtado told The Times- News, while also expressing caution. “We’ve seen a strong showing in support of our campaign, but still recognize it’s a bit close to call. There’s still votes out there from mail-in ballots and provisional ballots, and we want to be sure we see democracy play out and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard in this election.”

Thirty-one-year-old Hurtado, a Princeton graduate who is the son of Salvadoran immigrants, was running against the longtime politician to represent North Carolina House District 63. The Tar Heel State has 1 million Latino residents, two-thirds of whom aren’t eligible to vote because they are younger than 18 or not U.S. citizens.

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The Trump administration has targeted Latinos over the last four years, and the coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Latino families, making a greater percentage of them sick than any other race. Hurtado himself became ill with COVID-19 over the summer, interfering with his campaign efforts.

In recent months, grassroots organizers have been working to translate those Latino voting numbers into political power. Hurtado’s election to the state Assembly would be a product of that effort.

“I want the 21,000 Latinos in Alamance County to know they’re very much part of the conversation here,” he told the AP in September.

Hurtado, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has promised voters that once in office, he’ll fight for higher teacher salaries, increased access to early childhood education and a more diverse educator workforce. He supports a moratorium on the state’s voucher program and said he would consider a cap on charter schools.

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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