Here's How Congressman Ritchie Torres Just Made History

Ritchie Torres has just become the first-ever gay Afro Latino person to be elected to the U.S. Congress by winning the race for New York's 15th Congressional District. He defeated Republican Patrick Delices. The candidates were competing for the seat left by Rep. Jose Serrano, a 16-term Democrat who decided not to run for re-election (NBC News). "Thank you. Tonight, we made history," Torres tweeted Tuesday night. "It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the essential borough, the Bronx."

Torres is 32 and grew up in the Bronx. He has been serving as the youngest member of the New York City Council, where he recently made headlines for advocating for better public housing programs. He has also been vocal about calling for police reform, citing a need for increased accountability and independent oversight, without which, he says "there's never going to be an end to police brutality."

In September, he publicly called for the resignation of Ed Mullins, president of the New York Police Department's Sergeants Benevolent Association, after Mullins called Torres a "first class w***e" in a tweet (via NBC News).

Torres vows to open doors for other LGBTQ and POC candidates

Torres ran with the support of Bold PAC, which bills itself as "the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate," and of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's (CHC) campaign arm, both of which are celebrating Torres' win. "In a crowded primary field, Ritchie Torres was the clear standout candidate as the youngest Latino elected to the NYC Council, the son of a single working mother from the Bronx and a champion for the essential workers of New York City," said Rep. Tony Cárdenas, a Democrat from California and chairman of Bold PAC (The Hill).

Torres has promised to join the CHC as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Bold PAC. "His victory is a testament to the Hispanic Caucus' commitment to expanding our Caucus with diverse voices by investing in candidates like Ritchie Torres, who is soon to be the first openly LGBTQ+ Afro- Latino Member of Congress," Cárdenas added.

A record 26 openly gay candidates ran for the House and Senate in 2020, though many of those races have not yet been called. "Most would have thought New York City's first LGBTQ member of Congress would be from Chelsea or Greenwich Village or Hell's Kitchen," said Annise Parker, President of Victory Fund, an advocacy group dedicated to electing LGBTQ people to office, "but the Bronx beat them to it" (NBC News).