By Tovin Lapan
Thu, Nov 3, 2016
On the morning of the presidential debate at UNLV, Ruben Kihuen climbed onto the back of a truck parked in front of the Trump International Hotel and told the crowd he was living the “American Dream.” Addressing the “Wall of Taco Trucks” rally—organized by the Culinary Union Local 226, one of his longtime supporters—Kihuen told his story of coming to the United States with his family from Mexico when he was 8 years old and making the most of the opportunity. The crowd roared with applause.
Kihuen has risen from Nevada State Assemblyman to State Senator, and is now running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Nevada’s fourth district. At 36, Kihuen is a promising, rising player on the Democratic roster. But a life in office was not his first choice. When Kihuen was attending Rancho High School he dreamed of receiving cheers on the soccer pitch, not the campaign trail.
Kihuen grew up in Guadalajara. His father, Armando, traveled to Southern California for seasonal labor, and in 1986 he applied for Ronald Reagan’s immigration amnesty program, eventually establishing permanent residency. Kihuen, his mother Blanca and his siblings followed in 1988. Armando, formerly a teacher in Mexico, moved the family to Las Vegas in 1993 and got his U.S. credentials to teach middle school science. Blanca has worked in housekeeping for MGM for the last 23 years.