The first Latino to run a presidential campaign in the United States has died. Sergio Bendixen, a key pioneer in public-opinion polls among Latinx, passed away late Friday, May 26th at the age of 68.
According to Bendixen’s business partner, Fernand Amandi, Bendixen had suffered from a cold in the days leading up to his death. However, the cause of Bendixen’s death is yet to be reported.
Bendixen was considered a trailblazer in the Spanish speaking communities of the United States. Bendixen was born in Peru and immigrated to the United States when he was 12. In 1970, he graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Over the course of his life, Bendixen worked for a series of national Hispanic broadcasting networks including the Spanish International Network, Telemundo, Univision, and CNN en Espanol. He pushed for Hispanic inclusivity in American politics and later began producing political advertisements in Spanish as a means of tapping the political power of the Hispanic community.
“Sergio led the way in capturing the opinions of and understanding how Hispanics in America thought and felt about the most important issues in our time,” Amandi told the Miami Herald. “He was largely responsible for giving Hispanic America a voice.”
Bendixen began his political career in 1972 when he campaigned for George McGovern’s presidency. However, it was his efforts in organizing the conservative Democrats of Dade County in 1976 for Jimmy Carter that truly jumpstarted his career. After Carter was defeated in 1980, Bendixen moved to Washington, where his career in polling took off in the chronicling of emerging Cuban-American Republicans in Miami.
In his many appearances on Spanish-speaking television networks, Bendixen would relay political information and the results of his political polls in Spanish for the Hispanic and Latinx communities. His advocacy helped give Hispanic and Latin Americans a voice in politics, but it also made him a legend among many Hispanic Americans in the political world.
Bendixen’s memorial service was held at the University of Miami’s Storer Auditorium. He is survived by his two brothers, Robert Bendixen and Arthur Bendixen.
After his death, the Miami Herald reported that his best friend Mike Abrams remembered him as “the single greatest political mind I’ve ever met.”
“He could be a little Machiavellian to his political foes, but his loyalty and compassion for friends far outweighed any of that,” Abrams said.